Slide and Glide: Inventing a Better Stroller Wheel

Photo of a Bugaboo stroller equipped with the wheel assembly invention.

This Bugaboo Chameleon, owned by the inventor’s sister, sports 18 roller blade wheels, 9 on each side of the stroller, secured on curved plywood boards.

Colin Campbell thinks he has invented a better baby stroller wheel. He might be right.

The father of three has replaced a standard four-wheel stroller configuration with two arc-shaped wheel assemblies. Each assembly sports 9 to 12 inline skate (roller blade) wheels mounted on a curved piece of plywood that measures 30 inches along the curve.

The Big Idea is that the stroller traverses street curbs and even stairs with ease (see embedded video below). While you and I would be forced to turn our strollers backward and slowly lurch them up stairs one nasty bump at a time, his gliding stroller seems to traverse the obstacle with minimal fuss.

As he said in a phone interview, “Think of a boat on the ocean coming up against a wave. The first wheel hits an obstacle and raises the next wheel behind it, and so forth. It creates a rocking motion to push you over the wave.”

How much of a rocking motion is the $64 million question, but I’ll bet it could be smoother than traditional strollers. A curved set of wheels should take bumps, say a pothole, in small bites, while one or two large wheels fall in one fell swoop.

He also says his invention makes a stroller very easy to turn, even if the load is over 200lbs. One of his videos features two older children “surfing” as they hang onto the side of the stroller.

Part of the invention’s value is a self-selecting center of gravity, similar to a rocking chair. “If you’re leaning all the way forward, you can’t get the stroller to tip,” he said. “The parent has a lot of control over that wheel; the baby is the center of gravity. The baby sits over the pivot point where the stroller will turn, so it doesn’t matter how much weight you’re turning.”

In fair criticism, the wheels might need some sort of shock absorbers and his braking system needs work (it requires flipping a tab on four sides of the stroller). I’d also like to see how the stroller performs in wet and muddy environments; a splash guard might be called for. But this is a prototype, before stroller engineers bring it to market.

Video: curb and stairs demonstration.

Campbell got the idea for his gliding stroller while remodeling his kitchen. On his frequent trips to Home Depot he noticed that dump trucks have a raised wheel. Naturally, his brain told him to build a workshop in his garage and fill it with hundreds of inline skate wheels.

Contrary to what you might think, or at least I thought, Campbell isn’t a geek or a gear-head. A former high school jock with geek envy, his job title is assistant director. In southern California lingo that means he manages the filming of television commercials. He began building his wheel system three years ago, around the time he learned his third child was on the way.

So, when can we buy a gliding stroller? Campbell is trying to pitch the idea to stroller manufacturers now, but having a tough time cracking the wall companies have built to keep out the sea of people who think they have the world’s great invention on their hands. His introduction letter is a bit meager and the videos below are his only online presentation. In other words, good at inventing, not good at marketing.

If you know somebody who knows somebody, shoot me an e-mail and let’s give this dad his chance to be heard.

I told Campbell he needs to give this invention a name, even if it will be nameless when integrated commercially into strollers. He has tossed around SteadiBaby, RollerStroller and RollerBaby. Have any ideas?

  • Millipede Wheels?
  • Inline Baby Glider?
  • Baby Bow and Go?
  • Stroller Coaster? (a play on roller coaster)

This invention bucks a trend, radically changing the look and feel of a stroller. That’s not necessarily a good thing. The big question is whether this gliding stroller performs 110 percent better when test driven by parents. I’m certainly itching to take one for a spin.

Campbell is looking for your feedback—good, bad, questions.

Close-up of the wheel assembly invention.

Close-up of the wheel assembly. Rudimentary latches pull down on each end to park the stroller (a system likely to be improved if the invention goes to market).

Photo of two different brand strollers and two different brand child car seats equipped with the invented wheel assembly.

The wheel concept can work on a range of strollers, as demonstrated on a Bugaboo and Baby Jogger stroller, as well as Peg Perego and Cosco child car seats.

Photo of a baby sitting in the Bugaboo equipped with the new wheel assembly.

A baby leaning backward changes the stroller’s center of gravity, much like a rocking chair.

Video: rotating demonstration.

Video: an offroad video.

Video: folding demonstration.

Video: traversing a tree trunk and broken sidewalk.

Video: five kids being pushed.

Video: miscellaneous cruising clips.

Comments

22 Responses to “Slide and Glide: Inventing a Better Stroller Wheel”

  1. tyler says:

    Hi, I know the right manufacturer for this. Contact me if your interested (fyi – I’m the owner of JoggingStroller.com)

    tyler(at)nicheretail.com

    August 14th, 2007 at 1:57 am

  2. Mike says:

    I don’t think it was mentioned. What did he do about the breaks? I would hate to bring a stroller like this into the subway without being able to engage the break.

    August 14th, 2007 at 5:45 am

  3. Brian says:

    The idea looks sound, but that thing isn’t going to run well off a paved or flat/grassy surface. Perhaps all ATV version with somewhat larger wheels? And the brakes definitely need work. Try maybe connecting the two front and two rear brakes with a rigid bar that can be kicked into place.

    August 14th, 2007 at 7:34 am

  4. Jennifer says:

    I have no useful information other than to say awesome! I would definatly buy a stroller like this if it were on the market. So many of the other strollers out there are so clumsy and awkward; this looks so much easier to manuever. Love the idea, I hope it goes a long way!

    August 14th, 2007 at 7:39 am

  5. STL Mom says:

    I see from the demo that the stoller still folds, but it looks heavy. How much weight does this add? Also, I liked strollers that I could roll even when folded, i.e. I would hold the baby in one arm while dragging the folded stroller up the stairs with the other hand. Could that still work?
    I love that it goes offroad without being as huge as a jogging stroller.
    Personally, I would either want it in army green, like a tank, or tricked out with some sort of futuristic, world-of-tomorrow trim.

    August 14th, 2007 at 10:21 am

  6. Chief Family Officer says:

    It looks pretty comfy and smooth for baby, and easily maneuverable (sorry, I’m having trouble spelling today), which I like a lot. But I also like my strollers to be relatively lightweight, as someone else mentioned, and to have a cupholder and basket. These are things I’ve learned are tough to live without (for me personally, anyway).

    August 15th, 2007 at 1:00 pm

  7. owen keller says:

    Hey cole its me owen , the stroller is going good, it looks great .Next time show the breaks a little more.But rather than that it its awsome. Me and my mom are going to tell everyone we know.

    August 15th, 2007 at 8:46 pm

  8. lisa says:

    Am I the only one that thinks this thing looks completely hideous?

    I’m really not all that concerned about looks–I have a cheap stroller–but I would never purchase one of these.

    Also, I can’t get the image out of my mind of this thing on a hill…take your hand off the stroller for one second and there goes the baby, racing downtown at skateboarder speed, jumping curbs and everything.

    And with the time I’ve spent on rollerblades in my youth, I don’t believer for a minute that this thing can go off the pavement, no matter what the video shows.

    The idea of a higher front wheel to go over curbs and stairs seems sound, but the execution is all wrong. Maybe the same idea, with a smaller number of big, chunky wheels would work. I don’t know.

    Sorry to be so negative, I really am, but I saw this picture and just said “No, no, god no.”

    August 16th, 2007 at 6:21 pm

  9. AJ says:

    Uhh, except, if you put any stroller on a hill and let go, it will go racing down.

    As for curb jumping, the video shows the operator tilting the stroller up a little to navigate obstacles.

    I’ve looked at a ton of zany baby inventions, but only one type designed to address runaway strollers. That runaway scenario is always for a jogging stroller getting away from a jogging parent (for which, inventors sell Velcro wrist tethers). I haven’t seen a jogging stroller sold with such a device included. And Campbell’s roller blades don’t seem intended for a jogging stroller.

    It would be interesting to see some sort of battery-powered braking system that engages when the wheels move too fast, but again, this doesn’t seem to be a pressing concern among stroller manufacturers. I read a lot of child-left-in-car death stories, but not one parent-let-go-and-stroller-crashed story. Does it happen a lot in some places, say, San Francisco?

    August 16th, 2007 at 6:52 pm

  10. lisa says:

    I’ll be the first to admit that the run-away-down-a-hill scenario is probably just my over-active imagination. This may be a very good product, but to me, it LOOKS like a deathtrap. I don’t get this reaction to products very often, so I thought I’d make note of it here.

    Now that I think about it, I think it’s the rocking-chair shape to the wheel assembly. It looks like it would spin very easily. If left sideways on a hill maybe it could spin (under the force of gravity, not just, you know, magic) and start to roll. Regular strollers spin on their own, but when they roll they do that back and forth motion that slows them down. Jogging strollers roll straight but don’t spin.

    I don’t know. I’m probably just crazy. But if the inventor is serious about marketing this I would suggest a study to see if other people perceive this to be safe or unsafe.

    For what it’s worth, my husband doesn’t share my worst-case scenario visions (although he doesn’t particularly care for the looks).

    August 16th, 2007 at 7:59 pm

  11. Colin Campbell says:

    AJ,

    Thanks for defending me. Lisa does have a point. Some people may think my wheel system looks unsafe. It is the first time I have heard a negative reaction. I have had hundreds of people comment on my stroller and all have been enthusiastic.

    August 17th, 2007 at 1:53 am

  12. Christina says:

    I’m sorry, I can’t tell whether if when you’re walking the stroller is supposed to tilt back? Is that the rocking chair thing going on? It just looks weird to me, like whoever is pushing the stroller is tilting it back, and I can’t tell if it’s supposed to do that. You should test a prototype in NYC, too, or anyplace where you would required to use stairs a lot. THAT would be a good test. I would be very excited for this if you can get it going.

    August 17th, 2007 at 2:12 am

  13. AJ says:

    No problem Colin, but I’m not defending you. I’m just discussing the merits of the design.

    I’m doubtful that your stroller will roll away much faster than a regular stroller because there are so many roller blade wheels in contact with the ground, but that’s an issue for you to investigate. If would be interesting if you could engineer a handlebar toggle that changes the wheel rotation — let the parent artificially slow the turning of the wheels for downhill slopes and such.

    As for possible public aversion to the design, my article did reference the need for the wheel assembly to provide a 110 percent better user experience because it looks unusual. I think it looks cool, but obviously some people may react differently.

    August 17th, 2007 at 2:12 am

  14. Carson says:

    My problem is with breathing while standing. In a rocking chair or glider my breathing is near normal. Plan to build a low four wheel dolly to fit under a wheelchair or glider. But, your wheel configuration intrigues me. I can use my legs for propulsion and braking and can also use my arms. Have any ideas for adults in my situation? I weigh 210 lbs. Would you consider selling me a wheel set? By the way, your ideas are great.

    August 21st, 2007 at 5:14 pm

  15. Colin Campbell says:

    Carson, I would like to talk with you. Please contact me via SteadiBaby on YouTube. Thank you for the compliment. I hope I can help.

    August 21st, 2007 at 8:39 pm

  16. josiah says:

    Hi,
    I am a new father and i am moving into a apartment with a lot of steps, would this work for it?

    And if yes when can i buy it?

    August 30th, 2007 at 6:48 am

  17. Colin Campbell says:

    Thanks to everyone for the support and enthusiasm. All these strollers are just prototypes and are only to convey the idea of the invention’s capabilities. I hope that someday a manufacturer sees the potential of the invention and will take my product to the next level.

    August 30th, 2007 at 7:19 am

  18. josiah says:

    Is there any way i could buy one from you?

    August 30th, 2007 at 1:31 pm

  19. Colin Campbell says:

    Josiah, I would be uncomfortable selling one at this point. You can contact me privately via my YouTube Steadibaby account.

    August 30th, 2007 at 1:39 pm

  20. Ronnie says:

    Hey man I think its kool the rocking chair effect in all aspects would work. Maybe a little bit bigger wheel and tire combo to traverse stairs and curbs easier. Im in the process of building a similiar concept more for off road pourposes. Great idea though.

    June 14th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

  21. Natalia says:

    Hello! I have twins. Do you think it is possible to do it for twin stroller?

    November 6th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

  22. Ledge says:

    WOW!!!! That is the neatest invention I have ever seen! We’ve got to get this on the market. I have 6 kids and walk a lot (hate carseats) Good strollers are my “thing”, and this is the BEST! You have solved the stroller wheel turning delima! WOW! Please contact me. wedge71at pmt.org

    November 9th, 2008 at 10:24 pm