Inspect Our Gadgets

Three body-boosting tech toys bring superhero speed, flight, and strength to the mortal masses

Jul 28, 2006
Outside Magazine
Buggy Rollin'

LOWRIDER: Blondeau Buggy rollin' through the streets of Paris    Photo:

Airscooter II


French Fly
Frenchman Jean-Yves Blondeau first conceived of his plastic Buggy Rollin' suit in 1994, while he was a student at Olivier de Serres design school, in Paris. But the invention, which allows a wearer to top 60 miles per hour while maintaining any position found in the Kama Sutra, didn't exactly catch fire with consumers. Not one to give up, Blondeau recently refined the suit to a stripped-down 31-wheel version and developed his own playbook of moves, like the Zaphial (rolling flat on your back with all four limbs pointed straight up) and the Smooth Buggy Dog (three limbs on the ground and one rolling along a wall). So will Buggy Rollin' go big? We're not investing. The suits cost $3,800 each. And it's called "Buggy Rollin'."
—Tad Whitaker

Heli Yeah
Do-it-yourself heli-skiing is one step closer with the AirScooter II, a new personal helicopter designed by Poway, California–based inventor Elwood Norris and scheduled for release in December. With a 65-horsepower engine, the AirScooter carries 350 pounds and tops 60 miles per hour. The coaxial rotors—opposite-spinning blades—make it only slightly tougher to control than a sit-down mower, and because the FAA considers it an ultralight, you don't need a pilot's license. So far, the U.S. Border Patrol and California firefighters have shown the most interest. But a two-seat model, currently in the works, could have you and a friend swapping powder runs soon enough. $50,000;
—Ben Bleiman

Not Your Daddy's Dockers
The HAL-5 trousers—developed by Yoshiyuki Sankai, an engineer at Japan's Tsukuba University—do a lot more than stay wrinkle-free. Strap on the battery-powered Hybrid Assistive Limb exoskeleton, apply some electrodes to read your nerve impulses, and suddenly you can lift an extra 400 pounds. That could make the HAL handy in search and rescue and even mountaineering. In August, the trousers will see service in the Swiss Alps, where Japanese climber Takeshi Matsumoto will carry a quadriplegic friend to the summit of 13,665-foot Breithorn. Available 2008; from $13,500 per year;
—Jason Daley

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