How did it all start?
Many ask us how the whole Electric Unicycle “thing” started and here is a bit of history as we understand it. If you have more information, contact us via the Contact Us page, so that we can update the information here.
Inventor re-inventing the wheel
It seems that Shane Chen from Inventist either is the father of the Self-Balancing Electric Unicycle as we know it today or at least contributed hugely to it. Shane Chen, from Camas in Washington State in the US, is a serial inventor.
Some of his inventions are slightly out there, others are a bit more “normal”. Some of the things that he invented and that you might have heard of are the V-shaped Kick Scooter for children, the intriguing Aqua Skipper (Video is here) and the totally useless Fizz Saver (great idea, but doesn’t work); other inventions are the mad looking Orbit Wheels and the even crazier Swerver Skates.
One of his inventions is the Solowheel, a gyro-stabilised “People Mover” – as Chen calls it – and it is most likely the first Self-Balancing Unicycle that was created and turned into a usable product.
History and Prior Inventions
Shane Chen invented it around 2010, filed the Patent Application in March 2011 and got a Patent granted in August 2014 (Patent number: 8807250). But he didn’t invent it from nothing, instead he refers to patents and patent applications from the inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway around 2001 , from Honda Motor Co and one patent that Chen’s Solowheel is based on is even from 1977, when Gabriel Charles L invented a “Motorized unicycle wheel” that shows a distinct similarity with Chen’s Solowheel.
Reading the Patent as a non-patent-lawyer and considering that there were already some prior patents, one could think that the main thing that Chen got patented is the housing that is in contact with the legs, because that’s where the Electric Unicycle is essentially balanced, but we are very open for other interpretations of this patent.
Chen’s Solowheel patent is referenced in other significant patents, for example for the Ryno, a single-wheel motorbike and for some Chinese single-wheeled and two-wheeled electric vehicles.
Today’s Patent Situation
We are definitely not patent experts and can therefore not fully assess today’s Patent situation. Self-balancing Electric Unicycles are manufactured in thousands every day in China and it seems that the manufacturers and the resellers all over the world are not too concerned by Inventist’s assertion that they will fight “illegal” Solowheel copies.