There is a word in the English language that describes many concepts very well: over-engineering. However, Poyan Mokhtarani evidently hasn’t heard of it and that is no surprise when you look at his Mercury in-line skate concept which brings skating to a whole new technical level.
Looking like a strange mix between a powerizer and a collection of train wheels these skates aim to create a more comfortable and efficient skating experience, and are doing this through a variety of engineering methods more usually seen in car safety systems than on a pair of shoes on wheels.
The idea behind this concept is to eradicate one of the biggest downsides of skating, and one that could well lead to medical issues. If you ride on skates over most surfaces (with the exception of very new concrete and ice) then you will find that the skates will experience vibrations that will in turn affect your ankle.
Whilst this itself is not great, it can also affect knee joints as well as (or so is claimed) eyesight. The Mercury skates aim to combat this, which will also create a much less energy intensive ride, meaning that you can skate for longer; you will also be able to go faster, which may well be (if you fall) even worse for your health!
This is done through two main methods: firstly there is a large spring that goes from the middle of the wheels to the bottom of the heel, which aims to absorb the worst of the shocks. Not only would it be practical, but it also looks very futuristic, and results in the heel being slightly raised — something that may take a little getting used to.
The second method (and the one that my car safety comment was based on) is the way in which the foot is attached to the boot. A series of air bags are placed in the boot, and are then blown up (by switching modes and pressing the heel) creating a cushion of air around the foot and therefore keeping it in place.
Not only should this be more comfortable but it will also allow the user to have a lot more control over the skate as well as offering the obvious vibration-absorbing benefits.
The last couple of interesting features are on the boot and front wheel. The boot will have a removable calf for those who like to have more ankle support, and the front wheel will be joined by springs to stop it jamming on small objects (like stones); two things that we haven’t really seen before and that will definitely be an advantage for the skater.
Although this is only a concept it may well offer an insight into the future of skates, and it is a very interesting future: the technology involved is pretty advanced (for skates) and the futuristic design is no less than striking. We can only hope that this does make it off the paper and into reality, and that it will do it soon!