According to the movie Back to the Future, our society was supposed to have hoverboards by Oct. 21. However, all we have is a glorified segway that allows people to travel around town on a two wheeled vehicle. At the this point in time, we would have hoped to have a device that at least hovered and didn’t simply roll around.
Today’s version of hoverboards has been introduced by a variety of companies, the main ones being Hovertrax and IO Hawk, allowing people to stand atop a 2-wheeled vehicle and to be transported anywhere they wish within a 12 mile radius, at a top speed of 10 to 12 miles per hour. The boards are capable of supporting up to 220 pounds, as the board itself, on average, weighs 25 pounds.
For anywhere from $300 to $1500, you can be chauffeured around town while standing upright, and expend little to no physical effort.
The board needs to be recharged every 12 or so miles, so it is not very effective for long distance travel. It is often referred to as an evolution in technology; however, by this point, people were expecting something that would actually hover a few feet off the ground and allow riders and travel at fast speeds, instead of a glorified segway.
2015 has been named the year of the hoverboard by many tech companies; CNN named the hoverboard made by IO Hawk the coolest piece of technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Since, many knockoffs have appeared on the market. IO Hawk’s plan is to get their products into the hands of as many celebrities as possible in order to out sell their competitors.
YouTube star Casey Neistat was one of the first public examples of this business plan, as his video in July, “Hands free Segway thing,” got over 4.3 million views.
As of now, there is a patent war going on over who owns the plans to this 2-wheeled self stabilizing device. Mark Cuban, billionaire entrepreneur, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and investor on Shark Tank, has invested in a similar product created by American inventor Shane Chen. Chen created his own version of a hoverboard, Hovertrax, for which he was given a patent in 2014. When entering into an economic deal with Chen, Cuban promised to sue any company that appears to be copying Chen’s design, which can be bought for $1,495.
One of Cuban’s early targets was IO Hawk. He claimed that their$1800 design infringed on that of Chen’s cheaper board.
Palo Alto High School senior Kash Rogers is one of the few students at Paly who own one of these prototype hoverboards. The prices for these boards do vary, due to the fact that there are some very high-end ones, and there are some that do not go even as fast as a person can walk. Despite this, these boards are viable for commuting around town, terrorizing your pets, making your friends jealous, or even cruising in airports.
“Sometimes I bring it into the airport and ride it in the terminal,” Rogers said.
The carry bag it comes with is a great way to store not only Rogers’ hoverboard, but also other carry on items that can be easily stored in the overhead compartments when at airports.
If you really don’t feel like walking or if you happen to have some extra money lying around, a hoverboard could be a solid and enjoyable investment.