Poweriser: Alternative Commuting by Pogo-Stilts
Surely this is the coolest alternative to walking since... well, since bicycles. If you could cover 5 meters (16 feet) at a single bound, well you could cover the distance to work (with a short-cut over that fence) before you could stop-and-go your auto across town. With a 2 meter (6 feet) vertical jump, your back flips and slam dunks would rock! Okay, that is the Olympic athlete level of performance, but the Poweriser stilts were tech-checked by the German television program Galileo, and a 3.5 meters (12 feet) stride was demonstrated. The Galileo tech-checker needed about four minutes to get the hang of the springy stilts and was able to master gravel, grass and hills with ease. These gadgets have been around now for about two years (and through a full cycle of re-engineering: if you were the first in your neighborhood to own a pair, check out the upgrade kit being offered free to current owners--right after you leave your comments letting us know if these live up to the imagination). Why is TreeHugger predicting a boom in Powerising? Check out the adverts Zurich drummed up after getting permission from the patent holder to feature their pogo-stilts: Zurich Commercial: This clip is all Powerisers. It is in German but the gist is: what if your product caught on so fast it changed the world (how would you insure your business?)?
For the English version, with only a small poweriser scene, try Change Happenz.
Galileo got a sports medicine specialist hopping too. The verdict: Powerisers require a good level of health--muscle power and aerobic fitness--to use for long. In particular, a constant rocking motion is necessary to maintain balance when standing in place, so there is no real "resting" phase without a lamp post or buddy to lean on. But the Doc compared the stress on the body to riding a bicycle, finding no reason for the average person to fear joint or muscle problems from using the Poweriser. Another bit of good news: unlike skateboards and inline skates, the Powerisers are easy to stop by slightly changing the center of balance, simply allowing the spring to absorb the forward momentum. One note of caution: Although videos on several of the internet sales sites for these gadgets show stunts on steps, the tech-check (and the inventors) do advise that stairs should be avoided by anyone adverse to extreme-sport risks.
A pair of adult Powerisers will set you back about US$500 (€399), cheaper for kids. Yeah, it's a lot, but look at it from the green side: if you make that kind of investment it is less likely that these will take the route to the landfill via a long pause in the back of the garage or the cellar. FYI, Powerskip seems to be a similar product if you are in the market, but about twice as pricy.