You most likely came here wondering what a sideskate is. It is a skate device that you stand on sideways, one skate under each foot, and pump by driving each foot in sinusiodal motion. The mechanism of propulsion is like other devices on the market, e.g. freeline skates, streetboards , (aka snakeboarding) and the wave ; like these, it is great fun and exercise. Of course, we think that our invention is better than any of these, and will try to convince you, too; also see this entry. So read on! or, send me an email at
Skating is great - and it would be even better if everything were slightly downhill (both ways) - but you have to pump. Not that this is not really a problem; pumping a skateboard is a pretty easy skill to learn, and it is rather efficient at using the existing musculature and pendulum-mode locomotion we humans exemplify, but it is somewhat high impact and asymmetric. (Well, for street skateboarders, pumping is very low impact compared to falling, but anyway.) If nothing else but for pure novelty, you might desire to get up speed without touching the ground, and the only way to do this is to turn the wheels at an angle to the overall motion so that you can exert a force upon the road with a component in the forward direction. In (what used to be called) a snakeboard, you turn the wheels by torquing your feet, and apply lateral force to the wheels by swinging and pumping your torso. With freeline skates, the method of propulsion is almost exactly the same, though you are given far more freedom: the wheels can be put on edge (permitting inline skate type turning via wheel contact patch distortion) or increasing the torque required to turn them, conferring (somewhat) greater stability at speed. Also, with freeline skates you can vary the distance between your feet, permitting all sorts of crazy tricks, but also requiring that you keep your legs from doing a split (surprisingly not too too hard). (Note I haven't had much experience with either of these at high speed, so if some pro snakeboarder/streetboarder/freelineskater wants to correct me, please email!). Finally, the "Wave" street surfer works via a single rollerblade wheel under each foot on a steeply-angled caster that couples of axial deck roll to turn. All permit some way of putting the wheels at an angle to overall direction, permitting acceleration (or deceleration, if you are skilled, which I'm sure you are :)
Freeline skates and streetboards require that you learn and unusual motor mapping: torque about the hip joint -to- change in direction -to- balance. From my experience it is not that hard (our primate heritage has give us plenty of muscles in the upper leg to torque the hip), but for a skateboarder it is certainly not as natural as the ankle flexion -to- positively stable skateboard human system. A skateboard can take advantage of the natural vestibulo-spinal reflex loop, e.g. leaning forward activates the fast-twitch gastrocnemius muscle, turning the skate closer to the center of gravity (and vice-versa). "The Wave" skateboard is a bit better in this respect (again really only proving that the human motor system is capable of learning damn near anything (linear and predictable)), though here turn is coupled to lateral force (e.g. for radial acceleration) and is not a pure function of muscle activity.
Sideskates were the natural solution to the limitations/hole left by the devices left above. They utilize natural reflexes + learned skateboard reflexes. It typically takes a motivated person about an hour, and probably will take less for a sharp teenager or kid; they are easier than freeline skates. Sideskates keep the wheels parallel to the ground, allowing higher levels of lateral friction due to much larger contact patches (ala the wide, flat wheels of racecars); This also limits wheel deformation around the contact patch, permitting more efficient pumping (energy put into deforming the urethane is mostly lost to heat and friction). You just jump on them, one per foot, like freelines, and glide away! Eventually we'll add straps so as to do jumps and pipes etc. Also, you can put a cable between them to limit the strain on your groin (really only a problem while learning) and improve efficiency while pumping.
For the technically inclined, a fairly accurate drawing of the skates (accurate to the pitch of the threads, not that I'm OD, i just beleive that images need a natural distribution of frequency components to be beautiful, and the threads provide the HF:) is
Here are some videos of Keenan riding the skates circa January 2006 at our parents' house in Tuxedo, NY.
About the inventors:
Tim is taking a one year hiatus from working toward a PhD in Neurobiology at Duke in the lab of Miguel Nicolelis . During this time, he hopes to make a small and low-power recording system for both sale and direct research use: neurorecord.com. He is really interested (as you may have guessed from above) in computational motor control and motor learning. This server also hosts Tim's poorly organized research wiki, gigabytes of archived mail , some sql databases, and the old index page Tim also has a wierd blog-type thing at m8ta.com -- but, be forewarned, he didn't bother getting it to work in internet explorer or safari!
Keenan just graduated with a degree in biomedical/materials science at Alfred. He makes surfboards, skateboards, machines, can weld, etc, and is presently looking for a job. See his resume.
Since we are both very busy with our crazy lives, we plan on waiting a bit before moving to manufacturing (at least the patent is done now). If you have made it this far, please email Tim at and bug with your thoughts / suggestions / whatever! thank you and have fun!