Ah, crowdfunding. It allows a small group of people to (eventually) get their hands on a very niche product that would have otherwise never become a reality. Here’s an example
If you have ever secretly envied those children with bright flashing LED lights in their shoes, then an American-based crowdfunding campaign just might have the product for you. What started out as a simple alternative to a traditional riding boot has resulted in ROAME Zeros: a pair of high-top sneakers with inbuilt and wireless brake lights and indicators.
A strip of LEDs runs around the base of the shoe. The outside lights are orange, like your indicators, while the inside strip closest to the motorcycle is red, like your brake lights.
While the idea itself may be credible in this age of people putting more emphasis on both being noticed and looking cool, unless you ride a sportsbike, the actual benefits of the invention are a little harder to, er, see.
What is rather amazing, however, is the campaign’s success. It had a six-week goal to raise the US$25,000 (A$32,715) needed to get the project off the ground and reached its funding goal in just five days. By the end of the campaign, 226 backers had pledged a total of US$40,039 (A$52,400) via Kickstarter, while US$44,532 (A$58,280) has been pledged for the same project via Indiegogo. Fancy a pair? They’ll set you back US$399 (AU$523).
Look and feel
Whether the ROAME Zeros tick everyone’s boxes in the style column is not for us to surmise, but the casual looking boot is constructed from a mix of both canvas and leather, with both traditional laces and Velcro strips used as fasteners. In terms of protection, the boots use CE-approved D30 padding in both the ankle and toe area, the top Velcro strip prevents the shoelaces ending up anywhere they shouldn’t, while the bottom Velcro strip is <i>meant<i> to stop the gear lever putting marks on your blinking boots.
Lights and flash
Unlike those bright, flashing children’s shoes, the ROAME Zeros require a small transmitter box which you need to connect to your motorcycle’s wiring loom. Once connected, you then need to pair your shoes with the transmitter box, presumably via Bluetooth, and the lights on your new shoes will correspond with the signals on your motorcycle. To power the LEDs, the shoes themselves have an inbuilt battery which is rechargeable via USB, but if either campaign reaches $50,000 then creator Adam Timmerberg says he’ll double the battery capacity.
Okay, let’s pretend for a moment your flash new high-tops have arrived in the post, you’ve connected your transmitter (to your knees-up sportsbike), paired your shoes to your bike and the sun’s gone down. You’re riding along, you’ve braked a few times, changed a few lanes and have activated your left-hand turn signal. This, by now, may make sense to the driver of vehicle which has been travelling behind you long enough to work out why your adult shoes have flashing lights inside them, but the road user on your left might have some more trouble understanding it. You may laugh, but as always the market will decide.
By Kellie Buckley