GOOD

Move Over Ancient Wheel Inventor, Someone Just Improved Your Design

David Patrick launches his "perfect cube" as a wheel to replace, well, the wheel.

There's been little need to reinvent the wheel. A few monuments here and a generation of red wagon rides down a hillside there, and all seems well. But inventor David Patrick let chance and his own fascination with the physics of spheres lead him to a redesign; a reinvention of the trusty wheel, the "Shark Wheel."


His wonky, sine wave design happened by chance, according to Patrick. Fastening small tubes end-to-end into a circle, he then bent the shape to fit proportionately within a cube, "mitigating sharp angles while maintaining fidelity to the cube-like shape," wrote The Atlantic's Megan Garber.

And then he dropped that object on the ground -- and discovered that it rolled. And: it kept rolling.

"The helix shape was balanced," Patrick explains, meaning that, whatever terrain the helix traversed, it kept traveling.

Patrick turned that insight into a series of skateboard wheels designed for different types -- and terrains -- of skateboarding. Those wheels, in (yep) turn, "feel perfectly circular when you're riding, but look like a square from the side when in motion." Furthermore, Patrick says, because of their modular design, they're faster than the traditional wheel: the sine-wave pattern of the wheels' treads reduces the surface area that makes contact with the ground ... which, in another turn, reduces friction.

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The design, an offshoot of a previously attempted bicycle wheel, is being pushed through Kickstarter as Patrick and his "Shark Wheel" team aim for mass production. Since listing his invention on June 2, it has received more than three times the $10,000 he set as a goal.

The last time the wheel was invented, everything followed.

Photo from Sharkwheel.com

This project is part of our Saturday series, Push for Good —our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.

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