Amid the hullabaloo around Apple’s WWDC and the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo this week, it can be easy to overlook some of our oldest, yet most essential, technologies. Take the wheel for example. Sure, it works great, but it’s used the same boring round design for thousands of years. Isn’t it about time an update?
The wheels of the future won’t have just one shape; they'll have three, according to Shark Wheel, a California company that says it has literally reinvented the wheel. The Shark Wheel is a perfect circle, a perfect cube and a perfect sine wave.
If the idea of a square wheel sounds crazy, it looks even weirder seeing them glide a skateboarder down the street. But Shark Wheel claim that its skateboard wheels roll faster and slide better than boring old round wheels and can also perform well when riding through rain and gravel.
The reason, claims Shark Wheel inventor David Patrick, is that the shape reduces the surface area that makes contact with the ground while increasing the width of the wheel, simultaneously reducing friction and improving grip. The pattern can also move debris out of the way and reduces hydroplaning to remain stable when skating on rough or wet surfaces.
Patrick said the inspiration for Shark Wheel came when he took six different shapes to form a perfect cube. When he accidentally dropped the shape, it started rolling and kept rolling across multiple surfaces.
“The helix shape of it was perfectly balanced, so no matter what the terrain it kept on rolling.” Patrick explained in a video on Shark Wheel’s Kickstarter campaign. In 10 days, Shark Wheel has rolled right past its $10,000 funding goal. At the time of this writing, Shark Wheel has raised $30,872 on Kickstarter, with 25 days still to go.
Shark Wheel already has the designs completed and tested, and said they'll use the Kickstarter funds to begin mass production of the square-shaped wheels.
Do they really work? Check out this video of a skateboarder trying them out.
If this technology takes off, it will be interesting if it gets applied to other uses. Could the same technology improve wheels on automobiles, bikes and other devices that have relied too long on the round model?