There are rumors out there that a major theme for this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be personal mobility — small individual transport for short journeys or commutes that make the need for quick car trips obsolete.
If that’s true and CES 2016 really does get on its bike or scooter or Segue clone, etc., it’s safe to say a small California company already spun around that bend on its trademark scooter and skate designs.
Based out in Silicon Valley, Acton is a personal transportation startup making noise with its M Scooter and Rocketskates. Focusing on the theories of compact, lightweight and rechargeable machines that get you there with some fun thrown in, Acton’s designs blend practicality with attitude.
The concepts behind personal mobility are simple. We don’t want to drive everywhere, especially short local trips or daily commutes. But, we’re still not that thrilled with walking or even biking. Why should we sweat and stride and pedal when we have perfectly good, rechargeable and renewable technology that get us where we need to go if we pack in a little ingenuity?
Enter Acton. Their M Scooter is a battery powered, three-wheeled vehicle with simple controls, a battery that can be charged outside of the scooter for easy swapping, brakes on each wheel and a top speed of 12 mph.
Unlike other personal scooters I’ve ridden and reviewed, the M Scooter can be enjoyed while standing or sitting. It’s three-wheel design makes it more stable and two-wheel, inline scooters, while the top speed is enough to get where you need to go without offering the opportunity to act like a fool who’s eager to face plant en route to the office.
I successfully rode my test version of the M Scooter on everything from smooth sidewalks to rough street pavement to grass, in warm weather, in the wet and on cooler autumn days. Acton insists it’s also fully capable indoors and can move you around any office environment to the envy of your shuffling coworkers.
While the M Scooter might be the more practical vehicle in the Acton family, it’s the company’s Rocketskates that are getting a lot the world’s attention. Forget the images of Wile E. Coyote cracking open a crate from ACME and firing himself into canyon walls. The Acton Rocketskates are electric with rechargeable batteries that go from DOA to ready to go in about two hours.
Well-balanced and stable, the Rocketskates reside on the rear portion of the foot, allowing the wearer to stand and walk without engaging the skates. Once he or she is ready to roll, they engage at a speed of up to (again) 12 mph. It turns out that’s as fast as these electric personal mobility gadgets are allowed to go.
The skates still taking some getting used to, as most such devices do. While the M Scooter is more “hop on and go,” Rocketskates require a little longer to master. As you might on standard roller skates or ice skates, you might eat it once or twice before you get the hang of the Acton devices on your feet. But, once you pull it together, you’ll be amazed how easily you transition from walking to cruising at speed.
The Rocketskates fit most male and female shoe sizes, bear up under 275 pounds and are water resistant (but not waterproofed). Any user can run them over most pavement and the basic inclines you’d expect to find in street environments.
With the M Scooter and Rocketskates, Acton is in on the personal mobility game early. While we’re seeing hover boards and their ilk bursting into flames and getting banned in New York, these Acton designs are sensible and accessible. Now, time will tell how easily the devices from this Silicon Valley firm and its competitors merge into the mainstream.