The problem with most in-line skates is that they don't ever stop being skates. You strap them on, skate where you're going, and then change into your shoes once you get there. Hypno, an in-line-skate company based in Italy, has created what might well be the first line of in-line shoes.
The Hypno ATC4 combines a traditional soft-boot design with a detachable wheel frame. Skaters can detach the shoes' wheels in about 30 seconds and then continue walking in the lightweight boot.
For people who don't want to walk in their skates, K2's Escape is the model of choice. The first skate to offer a flexible sole and wheel frame, the Escape allows for full muscle extension in the hip, upper-leg, lower-leg, and foot. Its design improves speed, vibration control — and comfort. You won't be walking in this skate, but you might think that you are.
The ATC4 costs $279. Call Hypno (802-655-2431) or visit the Web (www.hypnoskates.com). The Escape costs $399.99. Call K2 Inc. (800-972-4063) or visit the Web (www.k2skates.com).
A version of this article appeared in the JulyAugust 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.