Did you hear?... Treadmobile -- crazy cool? Or just plain crazy?

Does running indoors on a treadmill make you feel like a lab rat? Well, check out Speedfit's Treadmobile, a human-powered treadmill on wheels that you can use on roads. Inventor Alex Astilean demonstrates the contraption on Youtube, which is generating buzz across the blogosphere and quickly gaining broader media attention.
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Does running indoors on a treadmill make you feel like a lab rat? Well, check out Speedfit's Treadmobile, a human-powered treadmill on wheels that you can use on roads. Click here to see inventor Alex Astilean demonstrate the contraption, which is generating buzz across the blogosphere and quickly gaining broader media attention. "It was mentioned on the NPR program 'Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me,' and the Discovery Channel is coming to my house tomorrow," Astilean, CEO and president of Speedfit (www.speedfit.com), told SNEWS® about his sudden fame.

Astilean said he invented the Treadmobile about three years ago so that people could get some exercise outdoors and also use that time to run errands or even commute to work. "Why should you have to spend boring time exercising in a gym?" he said. The Treadmobile allows users to go four times their normal speed, so they can get a workout while covering the distance between their home and the grocery store or the office.

At this point, Astilean has created a prototype (which cost $110,000 to build, he told us), and he has a more advanced design that could be used for full production, though he is looking for investors for the project. (Clearly, since his promo video concludes with, "Now is the time to invest!") He admitted when he first created his demonstration video a year ago it earned mixed reactions, including plenty of snickering. Just browse Youtube comments or surf websites such as Digg.com and you'll read some funny, and even cruel, responses like, "The Flintstones car was smarter," and "Stupid as hell, but it looks kinda fun."

This on the Burbia site: "Sometimes you come upon something so ridiculous, so on-its-face laughably stupid, you just want to stop everything and enjoy. That's what we did when we first saw this investors-demo video of SpeedFit...a treadmill designed specially to move/walk down the street while you're treading. Because, let's see, walking down the street without a treadmill is too tough?" (Click here to see the entire write-up.)

All jokes aside, Astilean said the Treadmobile, which can be used by one or two people, has practical applications. "It was originally made to be used by a trainer and a client," he said. "If a client is weak, the trainer can help the person, or even make the person slow down. It's also good for people, such as those who are older, who don't have the balance to use a bike." And, he noted, don't forget the fact that it avoids the prostate problems caused by bicycle seats.

Or course, we're curious as to how the thing will function on steep hills, in weather other than perfect (black ice could be a hoot), on bumpy streets, in traffic (no turn signals?), or whether people could safely use the thing on their neighborhood or city streets. We mean, is this thing street-legal? Hmmmm, parking? Guess we could use a compact space, but you likely wouldn't have to worry about fender benders since, well, there is no fender.

Whether it's mad genius, or just plain mad, the Treadmobile is certainly an eye-catcher. And to date, the demonstration video on Youtube has garnered more than 400,000 views. Yeah, you laugh now, but that's some serious attention.

--Marcus Woolf

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