Of all the new inventions I came across at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, Onewheel was the most innovative.
Created by Kyle Doerksen, a consumer products engineer and avid snowboarder, Onewheel is a self-balancing, electric skateboard that carves cement like a snowboard on only – you guessed it – one wheel. And at a top speed of 12 mph, it glides almost as fast as a Segway.
Doerksen made his first prototype in his garage, a mishmash of tires and plywood. But without a stability augmentation system within the board’s motor, he surmised that he wouldn’t be able to balance himself.
“The first functional prototype had a chain drive and big, heavy acid batteries, [and] even that first one was really fun to ride,” said Doerksen, who set out to turn that prototype into a product. "That meant simplifying it, making it more powerful and maneuverable.”
Onewheel is just that. It's primary feature is a big, go-kart tire, 6-inches-wide, that contains an electric hub motor. The board also has gyro and accelerometer sensors, not unlike the ones inside a smartphone. These sensors are crucial because the board turns and stops depending on how you shift your weight.
“You just lean forward to go forward, and you lean back to slow down and stop,” said Doerksen, “and when you want to make a turn, you lean to your heel edge or toe edge, and you can carve a sharp turn.”
Starting at $1,299, Onewheel is available for presale on Kickstarter. To watch Doerksen carve up a loading dock outside the Venetian in Las Vegas with his invention, watch the video embedded above this article.