Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

lundi 2 août 2004

We always dreamed to fly freely or to walk on water. This second dream is now possible, thanks to an invention by Yoav Rosen, who lives in Massachusetts. In "Inventing a Way to Walk on Water" (free registration, permanent link), the New York Times writes that more than 100 patents have been granted for water-walking inventions in the last 150 years -- and none of them worked. But apparently, this new invention works fine, at least according to some pictures. Rosen's company doesn't know where to sell such a product because "it doesn't fit into an existing paradigm for sports." So it has not decided a release date for this product.

Here is how he started this project.

Many inventors are afflicted with an overabundance of ideas. Not so Mr. Rosen: "I just had this one idea," he said. "But I've had it since I was 11 years old."
His mother still keeps a picture of a water-walking machine he drew back then. "The design was all wrong," Mr. Rosen said. "There is no way it would have worked."

So what's different with his last design?

Attached to the back of the pontoons are flaps, which act like paddles, providing propulsion as the legs lift and drop. That idea also echoes the design found in many earlier patents.
But Mr. Rosen's flaps are different from other versions in two significant ways. Rather than being heavier than water, the flaps are buoyant. And they are hinged to the pontoons in a unusual position, which makes them rotate from 9 o'clock to 12 o'clock. On other water-walkers, he said, the flaps typically rotate from 6 o'clock to 9 o'clock.
Mr. Rosen, who has tested six generations of prototypes, mostly on the Charles River, acknowledges that his version is counterintuitive. "I think that is why this design has eluded hundreds of inventors," he said. But, he added, allowing the flaps to rotate quickly enough means a person using the contraption can walk at a normal gait.

You'll find some other details on the product and its predecessors on this page at Rosen's company, WaveWalk.

Walking on water Here is a man using the WaveWalk product to walk on water (Credit: WaveWalk).

Rosen's invention has received the patent number 6,764,363 under the name "Upright human floatation apparatus and propulsion mechanism."

One sketch of the WaveWalk product The patent is available here. And this is the first drawing of the patent (Credit: Yoav Rosen).
A project for walking on water by Leonardo DaVinci By comparison, here is one of Leonardo DaVinci's projects for walking on water, extracted from this page (Credit: The Leonardo Museum).

Unfortunately, it will be a while before you can purchase such a water-walking product. so you'll have to wait before going fishing on your feet.

Sources: Teresa Riordan, The New York Times, August 2, 2004; and various websites

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