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Solowheel is for People Who Think a Segway is Boring (Video)

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the merrily-we-roll-along dept.

Transportation 94

Shane Chen is an inventor who likes to make all kinds of things. For instance, he designed the frame and invented a special reflective surface for the screen you see in the background of the video below. But many of his inventions have to do with transportation, especially the kind of transportation that doubles as personal thrill ride, like a sail for paddleboats and an electric surfboard. At this year's CES, I spoke with Chen's daughter Ywanne about his latest rideable invention, which is for obvious reasons called the Solowheel. Her father's the one you can see demonstrating the device in the background; you can see trickier riding in this YouTube video. She says that of all her father's inventions, this is the one that came together most easily: his first stab at a powered unicycle just worked, and since then it's been polishing the experience and getting it to market. And "to market" isn't a dream; for about $1800, you can have an experience that's a bit more intense than a Segway. The Solowheel can climb hills of surprising steepness, as long as the rider is up for it. Coming down looks more challenging, though.

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503 Service Temporarily Unavailable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42754957)

Anyone have a mirror?

Re:503 Service Temporarily Unavailable (2, Funny)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755123)

You are so vain! Er wait, you meant the other kind of mirror...

Re:503 Service Temporarily Unavailable (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758897)

It was " Slashdotted "

Re:503 Service Temporarily Unavailable (1)

M3.14 (1616191) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755133)

Looks like they need moore wheels for teh internetz!

Re:503 Service Temporarily Unavailable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42760943)

Try http://solowheel.info for some basic information, http://www.youtube.com/SoloWheela for videos

Millions of Years In The Making (4, Interesting)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755011)

Finally, Peter's wheel [wikipedia.org] has gone into production at last.

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (4, Informative)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755181)

That would be Thor's wheel, not Peter's.

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755243)

Damn. And here I thought since Peter was described as the genius, that he was the inventor. Oops. Thanks for the correction though.

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755267)

One derp point for me. I see now it even says that in the entry for Thor (only looked at the description for Peter before posting.)

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755373)

No worries. I grew up in Broome County, and was thus immersed in B.C.-lore at an early age.

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755285)

I prefer Stealers Wheel. [wikipedia.org] Especially while riding down Baker Street.

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (1)

Kadagan AU (638260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755311)

Your joke was already used [howstuffworks.com] by HowStuffWorks

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755333)

I still haven't perfected the skill of omniscience. (This is of course, impossible). ;)

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (3, Funny)

kybred (795293) | about a year and a half ago | (#42757677)

I still haven't perfected the skill of omniscience. (This is of course, impossible). ;)

How do you know?

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42769277)

I still haven't perfected the skill of omniscience. (This is of course, impossible). ;)

You can't know that!

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (3, Interesting)

Spiridios (2406474) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755423)

There's a computer simulation [wikipedia.org] available for those who want to try before they buy.

Re:Millions of Years In The Making (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42760563)

Or the sequel, Grog's Revenge, for people who hate being happy.

Downhill (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755013)

Going downhill on a regular unicycle is harder than going uphill too. Up hill you just apply brute strength to climb as hard as you can. Down hill you have to brake with your legs keeping the unicycle at just the right speed so it stays under you.

Re:Downhill (2)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755303)

It's supposed to have regenerative braking, so going downhill will send juice back into the battery. I admit I'm intrigued. Not $1,300 intrigued, but still.

Re:Downhill (1)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755609)

At least it seems to be portable.

Re:Downhill (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755657)

True, but it's a great way to learn how to ride unicycle backwards.

Re:Downhill (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42757037)

The other problem with going downhill on a regular unicycle is that when you fall off and jump off the front, sometimes the unicycle gets caught in your legs. Going uphill, when you jump off, the unicycle lands behind you.

Re:Downhill (1)

thestuckmud (955767) | about a year and a half ago | (#42757047)

I beg to differ. While you might argue that a simple model show the same energy requirement for ascending a hill as braking on the descent, I'm a mountain unicyclist and that is not at all the subjective experience. I find riding downhill is an easy skill to pick up; significantly less taxing than riding uphill; not at all comparable to the effort required when climbing. For example, the big bumps at the BMX track can be a serious challenge to climb, but unplanned dismounts on the downhill side are rare.

Ah, you say, but mountain unicycles use massive 3" tires with a lot of rolling resistance, The difference is surely less on a freestyle unicycle with high pressure tires. Yes, that is true, but downhill is still a lot easier. Consider the IUF uicycle skill levels [unicyclist.org] : Riding down a 15cm drop (think curb) is a level 2 skill, while riding over a 10cmx10cm obstacle (n.b. the hard part is going up) is at level 3.

Parent does have a point: It take a little skill to adjust to riding downhill. Beginners will have to practice a little to get the idea, but it does not take long to learn. After all, backpedal pressure (the real difference) is required in normal forward riding, so it is more a matter of degree than being a truly different skill. Until the hill gets steep, anyway.

One more thing: Brute force never works while unicycling. Without finesse, riding around the block would tire out a fit athlete.

Re:Downhill (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42761837)

While you might argue that a simple model show the same energy requirement for ascending a hill as braking on the descent, I'm a mountain unicyclist and that is not at all the subjective experience.

If your unicycle is equipped with a brake, sure.

Without a brake, downhill is much riskier because the consequence of your legs getting tired is worse.

On a flat surface or uphill slope, if your legs get tired you can just slow the unicycle down (or stop and hop off) until your legs recover.

On a downhill slope, if your legs get tired you will start to go faster, eventually to the point that the pedals are turning fast enough that you can no longer synchronize your leg strokes with the position of the pedals to control your speed at all. At that point the unicycle will get ahead of you and you will fall backwards onto your ass at high speed, which isn't much fun. :(

Re:Downhill (1)

thestuckmud (955767) | about a year and a half ago | (#42765785)

On a downhill slope, if your legs get tired you will start to go faster, eventually to the point that the pedals are turning fast enough that you can no longer synchronize your leg strokes with the position of the pedals to control your speed at all. At that point the unicycle will get ahead of you and you will fall backwards onto your ass at high speed, which isn't much fun. :(

I agree that there is more risk riding down trails than up them, but not for the reason you cite. A rider has no angular momentum when the unicycle shoots forward, and does not "rotate backwards onto your ass" in this scenario. Instead, you put a foot down on the ground and, usually, walk/jog forward (thus the term unplanned dismount). There is a risk of tripping, especially on uneven terrain, but no one said mountain riding was safe.

Re:Downhill (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42769711)

A rider has no angular momentum when the unicycle shoots forward, and does not "rotate backwards onto your ass" in this scenario.

Well, I can assure you that is what happened to me. I lost a significant amount of skin in the process, too. :) Note that I didn't say "rotate backwards", but rather "fall backwards", because that is what happens when you let the unicycle (and therefore your feet and legs) get out in front of you. (The "high speed" part refers not to rotation but rather to the speed of the unicycle+rider with respect to the ground, since the unicycle has been accelerating downhill)

so it got /.ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755031)

too many nerds wanting it i guess :)

Re:so it got /.ed (1)

coastwalker (307620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755339)

two grand in the uk, but if it can climb a serious hill on grass it could be a blast for older walkers who dread the 200ft climbs along a coast walk...

Need to be two of these (1)

eugene6 (2627513) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755047)

Where's the video of someone with one of these on each foot?

Re:Need to be two of these (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42757683)

Wouldn't work, the person's centre of gravity is supposed to be over the Solowheel's center.

Re:Need to be two of these (2)

sodul (833177) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758105)

just put show on top of each wheel so that you are over the center, like an inline rollerblade.

Re:Need to be two of these (1)

sodul (833177) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758109)

shoe not show (damn autocorrect)

Re:Need to be two of these (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758287)

It would work if it were reconfigured to be like the
orbit skates [youtube.com] .

more people looking dumb in malls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755073)

There are going to be more people, mall cops, looking stupid in malls on their one wheel scooter with bicycle helmet.

I can ride my solowheel with nohandlebars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755081)

No handlebars, no handlebars...

Looks like we killed their website. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755089)

Zerg rush.

I love this stuff (5, Informative)

Teppy (105859) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755115)

I just got a Solo Wheel - it's harder to learn than you'd expect by looking at the videos (way, WAY harder than learning to ride a Segway, which was pretty much instantaneous for me.) But it's an absolute blast once you do learn, and the one nice day that I've ridden around in public, I had dozens of strangers coming up to me and asking all sorts of questions.

I really want one of the RYNO Motors [rynomotors.com] gadgets next - planning to ride one of those all over Burning Man.

And this thing [geekalerts.com] looks like a blast as well, but those treads look dangerous as hell!

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Kadagan AU (638260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755259)

How much does a Solo Wheel cost? I tried to check on their site, but it was slashdotted.

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Azmodan (572615) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755313)

I knew people didnt RTFA but it's in the summary :

And "to market" isn't a dream; for about $1800, you can have an experience that's a bit more intense than a Segway

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Kadagan AU (638260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755451)

My bad.. I'm usually better than that, but was distracted by the shiny video! (which I didn't listen to, since I try to stay muted at work).. Missed most of the summary. Thanks!

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Rufus Firefly (2379458) | about a year and a half ago | (#42764205)

I knew people didnt RTFA but it's in the summary :

It's been about ten years since I've trusted a Slashdot summary.

Re:I love this stuff (2)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755341)

According to google, it costs around $1500. The RYNO costs around $4500. I'd love to get the RYNO, but the last 250 CC motorcycle I bought was $4000, so I think $4500 is a bit steep and probably not going to interest me unless it goes down to $2000. I also think that the Solowheel should drop to about $1000. I would love to own either product, but the price is too high for what you get.

Re:I love this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755347)

About 1800 USD.

Re:I love this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755387)

How much does a Solo Wheel cost? I tried to check on their site, but it was slashdotted.

Perhaps you might want to check the summary, which you may notice includes that information?

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755399)

I got one as well, it took me 3 days to learn to ride - definately tricky, but a lot of fun ensues when your friends ask to try it and they can't!
I live in San Francisco and the solowheel can make it up some of the steepest hills around here, though the battery life drain MUCH more quickly when you are going uphill.

These things are a blast, and it's fun to see all the gawking that happens when you go by - it's often that people will run after me to find out what it is. :) You get way more looks and questions than if you were driving a $250k sports car!

I used the solowheel to get around campus at work (we have a lot of disconnected buildings) and I usually get to my next meeting 5-10 minutes faster than the people who walk.

My biggest complaint is the weight - if it was a bit lighter you could carry it around with you, but as it is - you'll get sweaty within 10 minutes of trying to lug it around. I threw out my back one time because I tried to pick it up without using my knees - it's heavier than it looks.

You also tend to get bruises on your shins when riding because you press against a hard surface during turns - my trick is to stuff an extra pair of stocks inside my socks to provide shin padding, this works pretty well.

Re:I love this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42761605)

I am also a owner and a male in the mid 40ties. I was riding past a group of girls and one of them shouted out "so sexy!" That experience was worth some of what I spent on the Solowheel...

Re:I love this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762387)

They said it only weighs 25lb in the video, while that isn't light, you shouldn't really put you back out lifting that sort of weight. For your own good consider some exercise, like ab crunches, to build up your back muscles and other core muscles.

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755425)

it's harder to learn than you'd expect by looking at the videos

I expect it to be quite hard, so I guess I'll be passing on this one.

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758069)

Wow, quite the quitter eh?

Re:I love this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755589)

"this thing"'s would high center on a dime!

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Meyaht (2729603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758123)

you can't high center a one wheel vehicle...

Re:I love this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42756357)

I saw a guy on one of these last summer at a street fair. I was trying to figure out how he'd get going, then he just hopped on it and away he went. It was quite manouverable an silent. Very cool. Have fun with yours!

Re:I love this stuff (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42756615)

So you admit to having spent a large amount of money just to look cool in front of strangers?

Re:I love this stuff (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | about a year and a half ago | (#42760139)

Anything wrong with that? I would love it if strangers spent large amounts of money to look cool in front of me!

Re:I love this stuff (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42760565)

It is ultimately useless, and can therefore be considered a waste of money.
Wasting money upsets people who do not have enough.

Re:I love this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762343)

It's got a 10 mile range and recharges in 1 hour, it's also compact and only weighs 25lb. If you can't see how this would be useful to some people, even if it wouldn't be useful to you, then you're useless.

Re:I love this stuff (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year and a half ago | (#42757085)

Do you consider it a practical way to get around town or more of a fun toy?

Re:I love this stuff (question) (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758509)

I live in Japan and while I have a hybrid light car(K-car Japanese Standard), I try to save money by walking(when it's raining/snowing) or riding my bicycle(on sunny/cloudy days). However, honestly, I don't exactly enjoy bicycles(nothing wrong with them, just personal preferences). Motorcycles are great but I'm not comfortable with the idea to share the road with cars that weight at least 10 times more and a segway is way too overpriced(and fugly). If you lived about 5km( 3 miles) from your work, would you use it daily instead of a bicycle? How usable the Solo Wheel is for daily life? Do you consider it just a toy or an actual transportation mean for short distances?

Re:I love this stuff (question) (1)

Zies (2830603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42761527)

Very usable for daily life.
I own one of these and I use it 4x each day to travel 1.5km from home to work and back. Was doing this ride by bicycle for twenty years and I wanted a change.

At first it was a challenge, I had to stop to rest halfway. Now, with enough practise, it's simple, effortless.
I prefer the Solowheel to the bicycle for this distance although it takes a bit more time.

I carry the Solowheel along in the train when I have to visit customers, even if they're near the train station. It's a bit heavy for me to carry, so I ride on the platform in the train station and just walk a few steps...

Riding the Solowheel feels much more natural than the Segways, which I also considered as an alternative to the bicycle.

Re:I love this stuff (1)

MR-808 (559751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758843)

Since people riding Segways look ridiculous, I'd say it's worth the extra effort to learn to ride the Solowheel.

Re:I love this stuff (2)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | about a year and a half ago | (#42760441)

So, the people riding this don't look ridiculous? I'd say it's about the same as a Segway, though neither is terrible. In a society that people wear baggy pants so their underwear shows, this is nothing.

And get off my lawn.

Re:I love this stuff (1)

Zies (2830603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42769987)

So, the people riding this don't look ridiculous?

No they don't look ridiculous - I am told it looks cool and elegant.

Dead link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755315)

Looks like the website is down.

Oh god (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755335)

Get a better mic timmy. That was like voices from the fishtank. Interesting interview though and a cool toy. The young lady should lift her lips a bit more though, looks like she's trying to hide her teeth.

Re:Oh god (1)

Mattcelt (454751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42756333)

That's actually a cultural thing in some parts of Asia. You'll notice that women often cover their mouths when laughing; it's considered uncouth for a woman to show her teeth.

Re:Oh god (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about a year and a half ago | (#42759887)

Get a better mic timmy.

This. Quit using the onboard camera mic for what is supposed to be a semi-professional interview. On the plus side at least it doesn't look like it was shot with a cell phone.

If that is more exciting than a segway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755363)

I love the fact that they have videos of this thing in a skate park. The thing can barely get up the ramp let alone do any tricks other than go in circles. The only exciting part of this is figuring out how to ride it.

How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755377)

I've been hearing about this thing for years now, and saw videos from last years CES too. I mean, here's a link to an Engadget article from early 2011 http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/15/solowheel-self-balancing-unicycle-is-as-easy-to-ride-as-it-is-to/ almost 2 years go!

-diHck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755415)

Re:-diHck (0)

Meyaht (2729603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758143)

HAHAHAHAHHA!

BC wheel (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year and a half ago | (#42755607)

Looks like the wheel that caveman guy rides around on in the comic 'B.C.'

RYNO motors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755717)

How about a uni motorcycle? Much cooler... http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=Z1YoCfm7nxU&NR=1&feature=endscreen

Re:RYNO motors (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about a year and a half ago | (#42756781)

Maybe it isn't, but to me that thing looks like it would be prone to face plants.

I've seen an earlier, crazier version! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755851)

The "Hot Ideas Guy" that occasionally shows up at Burning Man type events has a two-wheeled, off-road skateboard that works the same way. Watching him casually ride it at high speed over broken ground is pretty amazing! The wheels are side by side in the exact middle of the skateboard, but the thing never falls over.

Next version will have 2 wheels, side by side. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42755855)

In other words, a Segway.

DAMN YOU! (2)

jennatalia (2684459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42756149)

Looks like another warm-weather device. Does not help me in the snow.

Re:DAMN YOU! (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42757353)

A Segway will throw you off in the snow. I've seen the people playing with them on wet grass, and if it slides to where he wheels have different traction, it doesn't understand and can give orders to the wheels that endanger the riders. But with a single wheel, it should work. The issue would be traction and getting stuck. Segway has offroad tires available, though I still wouldn't want to risk a Segway on snow, so get this thing with snow tires.

Re:DAMN YOU! (1)

Zies (2830603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42761357)

Does not help me in the snow.

It does not help much, but it's fun. See Riding the Solowheel in the snow [youtube.com]

Where are the African inventors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42756449)

Anybody?

Re:Where are the African inventors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42757201)

lol

Re:Where are the African inventors? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year and a half ago | (#42759201)

At African trade shows, speaking to African journalists. Next question.

Slashdotted (1)

crazyvas (853396) | about a year and a half ago | (#42757145)

www.solowheel.com slashdotted.
Solo server, solo core, solo thread, eh?

Where's that popcorn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42757789)

I can only hope they're as fun when crashing as seagways are.

Gizmoduck (1)

Zibodiz (2160038) | about a year and a half ago | (#42758179)

Now I want to cosplay as Gizmoduck with one of these. That would be some awesome cosplay.

And, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42759083)

like the Segway, it'll still be illegal in the UK!

Inventor's website (1)

mattr (78516) | about a year and a half ago | (#42759581)

The Inventist website has a bunch of cool inventions by this guy!
http://inventist.com/ [inventist.com]

Personal Thrill Ride? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42759911)

This is the kind of transportation that doubles as a personal thrill ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1y4RRWm3xw [youtube.com]

Do Johnny Hart grandsons know about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42759919)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.C._(comic_strip)

http://johnhartstudios.com/bc/characters/title_thor.jpg

Boring, show the thing in use!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42761471)

I wanted to see a demo of the thing, not a video of peoples' heads talking about it.

Re:Boring, show the thing in use!!!!!! (1)

jackbird (721605) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762461)

Search Solowheel on youtube. Or follow the link in the summary.

Re:Boring, show the thing in use!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42785867)

Hi guys!
I am happy Solowheel clone user! It is very interesting way to move around!
The clone costs about $1000 usd, but it is less powerfull than the original one.
Just learning to ride! It is rather hard to learning but the progress does up!

Sergey

Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42772979)

I am owned of Solowheel clone, it is called IPS. Quite nice thing, but due to the wet and cold winter here in Russia, i am not learned to ride yet. Segway here is cost about $ 10,000 it isvery very expensive. The Solowheel (i.e. its clone, In my case) gives to me a chance to touch innovation technologies, for the less price.

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