While in theory, the Atmos Gear feels like a winning idea, they’re about as game-changing as the hoverboard, i.e., they’ll probably exist as just a niche product.
The Segway and Hoverboard had pretty much the same instant appeal to their respective demographics when they launched, but they weren’t really what they promised to be – the future of transportation. The owner of the Segway company also pretty ironically died when his Segway drove off a cliff. Emblematic? Maybe. However, morbid news aside, a new company by the name of Atmos Gear really grabbed eyeballs at CES this year, with journalists zipping around on their electric skates. The skates, which look like your average pair of inlines and are connected by wires to a sling bag that houses the battery pack. A handheld remote lets you control your skates, which can hit speeds up to 25km/h with a range of 20 kilometers on a full battery charge. Needless to say, they can be used as regular skates even when the battery’s depleted.
What’s notable about the gear is the fact that it isn’t an entire unit. The AtmosGear can essentially be attached to any pair of inline skates by simply swapping out the analog wheels for the electric ones. The skates can be used without the electric motor being powered on too, as I alluded to earlier, although the presence of cables running from your feet all the way up to the battery pack in your sling bag feels like it could really become a hindrance.
So what makes the AtmosGear skates so special? Well, the skates come with two operational modes – a remote-controlled mode, which lets you use the handheld controller to accelerate, slow down, or brake, and secondly, the smart assistance mode, which I believe is the more interesting of the two. The smart assistance mode works just like a pedal-assisted e-bike. You skate as you regularly would, and the electric motor automatically kicks in to amplify your skating with lesser human effort or intervention. If AtmosGear figures out a way to do all this without the currently-clunky cable and sling bag system, this may just be a literal game-changer.
This is just the beginning of the road for French startup, AtmosGear. There will obviously be newer versions with better technologies, but for now, the skates they debuted at CES seem to be their flagship product, and are also available on their website for preorder. The company has taken orders for 150 pairs so far and is aiming for 200 orders to start production. “My goal is for everyone to go skating again because it’s so much fun, every time you see people skating you see them with a big smile,” said AtmosGear founder, Mohamed Soliman.