At first I thought "Motorized shoes? That just sounds dumb." Then I took a closer look at the Treadway Wearable Mobility project, an entry in the James Dyson Award competition, and realized how badly I wanted a pair of these:
Designed by RISD and Art Center grad Peter Treadway (nom de guerre?), the namesake shoes are meant to be a fun way to encourage people to travel on foot to a public transportation center. And while I think that's a bit of a stretch--I don't have much faith that that's what people would use these for--I greatly enjoyed seeing Treadway's tinkering process shots, and I could totally see these catching on. This project's got legs. Er, wheels.
Hit the jump to read Treadway's project description in full.
"Motorized shoes" is the short answer. They are lightweight, strap-on, wirelessly controlled (with a hand controller), lithium polymer battery powered, motorized shoe attachments. Treadways are worn on each foot and can be plugged in at any outlet to be recharged. They are designed specifically to traverse the Last Mile to facilitate access to public transportation and to be a more appropriate form of mobility for around town errands than a car would be. In a world where the default setting is "car", Treadways give people a reason to get outside to walk and roll.
In the "City Where No One Walks" cars are clogging up our streets. If every one of them were to be switched to electric, we would still have the same number of automobiles on the road. This is not just an LA problem. The fact is, cars simply make it easier to be flexible in one's travel plans. I noticed that many don't use public transportation because it is just slightly difficult to do so. I figured that if people really enjoyed getting to and from the local train station, they might step up. (One can still drive a car while wearing them.) It would have to be convenient, because convenience is one of the major motivating factors for change. Coolness is another... What was the other one??? Oh! Necessity.
Over the past few years I've tried a lot of things; springs-in-your-shoes, tiny bicycles, folding scooters, until I realized that the solution needed to be utterly forgettable to the user. Something that would never have to be carried or left alone... something that young punks would find cool... something that would be exhilarating, but safer than most other forms of small transportation... that would maintain the natural center of gravity without raising the user up to where they might lose their balance. The solution turned out to be a strap-on device that would allow the wearer to both walk and roll, and transition twixt the two effortlessly. Treadways came about by using everything that was out there and then by building and using my own prototypes. BTW, I also have a background in fashion- I wanted this to be as usable as an article of clothing.