Browsing the "New Arrivals" section of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog reveals gems like a 33-in-1 golf club, a buttonhole camera, and a sun shelter designed for dogs. But what really caught my eye recently is a gyroscopic electric unicycle. It's like a Segway you can tuck under your arm.
The Solowheel BC is about the size of a briefcase, with a carrying handle on the top. It weighs 20 pounds. You won't want to haul it around like a purse, but it's easy enough to move it into the office or stash it away in your living room.
Electric gyroscopic unicycles aren't a brand-new concept. We covered the Focus Designs self-balancing unicycle before. This one looks a little different. You'll notice the complete lack of a seat. That means you'll have to expend at least a few calories when riding it.
Operationally, it works a lot like a Segway. Leaning forward moves it forward. Leaning back brings it to a stop. It does have the advantage of costing less than a Segway, coming in at $1,800 as opposed to about $6,000 for the big machine.
The unicycle's battery is good for up to two hours of rolling time at 10 mph for a 160-pound rider. You will also need to weigh 250 pounds or less to ride it.
This may be as close as we'll ever get to a "Back to the Future"-style Hoverboard. Just imagine what you could do with one of these and a ghost costume on Halloween. Still, the gadget's greatest accomplishment may be opening up the world of unicycles to those of us who are too clumsy or impatient to learn how to ride the real thing.