Oh, I see! moments
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Clever Ideas and Happy Accidents Reinvent the Wheel

by Janine Boylan on June 24, 2013

David Patrick whose clever ideas created Shark Wheels

David Patrick
© 4sphere

How Do Shark Wheels Roll?

Shark Wheel vs old wheels, showing the result of clever ideas

© 4sphere

David Patrick had a clever idea: he added a twist to the world’s most perfect invention, the wheel.

And he has patented and hopes to begin creating these twisty wheels for skateboards.

Patrick designed a wheel that looks square from its side, has snake-like curves, but goes faster and smoother than a standard wheel.

In his Kickstarter video, Patrick explains, “The inspiration for this wheel came from a cube…I had figured out how to take six simple shapes and assemble them in such a way that it formed a perfect cube.”

He continues, “The helix shape of it was perfectly balanced so no matter what the terrain, it kept on going.” And it was fast.

Just how does a wavy cube-inspired wheel work? The wheel has a broader contact patch, illustrated by its snake-like tread, or sine pattern. This wider contact means that it won’t dig into soft ground like a traditional wheel will.

an explanation of the Shark Wheel design, showing clever ideas

© 4sphere

It also means the wheel performs well: the Shark Wheel prototypes are fast, smooth, and have great grip control, as this video shows.

If the video does not display, watch it here.

(Happy) Accidents Will Happen

Patrick had no intention of creating skateboard wheels. In fact, about ten years ago, he owned a software company.

He was working closely with a designer to construct computer drawings of 3D models, when he paused. He recognized that one of their artistic designs, if it was real, would spin.

They had accidentally created a new shape. This was his first Oh, I see moment.

Soon Patrick sold his software company in order to focus on developing the shape into a machine.

A bit later, as Patrick was working on his project, a coworker noticed, “That looks like a propeller. What happens when you blow air on it?”

What happened was: it spun, it was quiet, and it ran quickly. In fact it got up to 50 thousand rpms, considerably faster than other turbines. This animated diagram shows the concept at work in water.

If the video does not display, watch it here.

Oh, I see moment number two.

It was a good design; it worked well; and it was actually smaller, more attractive, and more efficient than blade turbines.

Then one day, using the same shape over and over, Patrick explains, “It fell on the floor and rolled. Suddenly we had a wheel.”

Oh, I see moment three.

Patrick reflects, “I accidentally invented a machine; from that came a propeller; from that came a wheel. I accidentally fell into all of this.”

Shark Wheels on board, showing the results of clever ideas

Shark Wheels: a new twist on skateboard wheels.
© 4sphere

Why a Skateboard Wheel?

Patrick is a skateboarder and knew that his wheel would work perfectly in that market. So that’s where he plans to start.

Shark Wheel bike, showing the result of clever ideas

The one bike the Shark Wheel team created requires a modified design.
© 4sphere

But he’s not stopping there. He envisions companies using his wheel design in many more everyday things like rolling luggage, grocery carts, strollers—anything that, as he says, “when you hit something soft, the thing endos.” He even sees it as a future solution for cars.

“But not bicycles,” he laughs. He created a bicycle-version of the wheel with a frame modified to fit it, but, Patrick says, the design works only on the back wheel. The front wheel requires a double helix. (Oh, I see. Of course.)

And, as if wheels aren’t enough, Patrick hopes to produce wind and water versions of his turbines as he develops his wheels. In fact, he is three months into dynamic tests on a wind-version of the turbine, and Patrick hopes to move into water versions soon.

But Where Did the Name Come From?

Just compare the wheel shape to an actual shark’s jaw.

Shark Jaws and Shark Wheels, illustrating creative ideas

The Shark Wheel design compared to a shark jaw.
© 4sphere

Plus I think Patrick is planning to use his clever ideas to take a huge bite out of the wheel industry!

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.


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