CAMAS, Wash. -- The Camas inventor who created the original hovercraft is at it again.
Shane Chen won first place at the CES innovation show for his creation, which he calls the Iotatrax.
It’s a 15-pound electric device with flaps on either side. A rider steps on one side, then the other and uses their body to lean the direction they want to travel. It’s sort of like a small but sophisticated Segway without the handles.
Chen said it’s easy to learn and intuitive to use.
"You go the direction you want to go. You don’t even think about turning. Just lean to the direction you are going,” he said.
Chen is a serial inventor.
In 2009, he came up with the Solowheel, a device with a single large wheel and foot pedals on either side and an electric motor. It still being sold around the world but has a reputation for being difficult to learn to ride.
After that, Chen invented the original Hoverboard, a product that became so popular, he said a thousand companies overseas illegally knocked off the design and sold their own. Some of those knocks offs caught fire. Chen's did not.
Which led him to the Iotatrax.
“It’s easier to learn than the Solowheel, smaller, more portable. You can ride almost like a Solowheel,” he said.
It uses much of the same tech as the Solowheel, but has a gearless differential system for turning.
That gearless system for turning, Chen said, is part of the magic inside the product. It also has gyroscopes and accelerometers to help the rider with balance. And he said, the two wheels in the middle help too.
“Because if you have just one wheel it’s easy to turn but it’s hard to learn. You have to balance on one wheel, it’s hard to learn. Two wheel, you don’t need to learn. Anyone can get on and go,” he said.
The new, Iotatrax is designed to be used outside.
Chen imagines a time that commuters will use it to ride a mile or so to public transportation, then carry it on the bus or train and plug it in at work.
At 15 pounds, it’s not light, but weighs about as much as a bicycle.
The inventor plans to sell it around the world beginning Feb. 28. Learn more