Every few years a technology based product come along and captures the attention of the public. In some cases it is some small device like the USB flash drive or larger like the digital camera. It can be highly functional like a netbook or simply for entertainment purposes like the Nintendo Wii.
Picking which tech device will catch the public’s eye is more art than science, because many that were thought to be “can’t miss” products like the smart watch, never caught on and others that seemed really unlikely to become popular like the e-Book reader have sold in the multi-millions.
Sometimes these products catch the public’s imagination, are just too cool or are just plain fun.
In the area of fun, the hoverboard has become one of these sought after tech gadgets that people can’t seem to get enough of these days.
What is a Hoverboard?
Hoverboards are self-balancing mono-scooters that propel standing riders forward. The hoverboard followed the amazing two-wheel self-balancing Segway scooter that has become popular with many corporations and municipalities. The Segway utilizes a rider’s arms and motions to propel the scooter forward and stop it. Hoverboards are smaller, more maneuverable but less functional version of a Segway that uses the feet and body motions to maneuver it. They are a lot of fun and also usually cost less than a tenth of the price of a Segway.
How do you Ride One?
A hoverboard is ridden by mounting it on a flat surface. Your first challenge is balancing on the hoverboard because it is tricky to get it firmly balanced beneath you. There are two pressure-sensitive footpads that you use to control the speed and steer with your feet. The hoverboard starts moving the moment you step on, so mounting and dismounting can be difficult.
It takes time to learn how to balance and to understand how to control your speed and turns. There is a very likely chance that you will fall often at first and this is why safety equipment including: a helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads and a tailbone protector.
Where are They Legal to Ride?
When hoverboards hit the market everyone was riding one everywhere from streets to sidewalks and even inside of buildings. There are now some restrictions on where you can ride with some cites and countries restricting the places you can ride. Generally speaking there are laws about how and which public roads and walkways you can ride them and they usually mimic bike riding laws. You should check the local laws to find out where you can ride one in your city.
Do they Still Explode and Catch Fire?
Hoverboards became popular very fast and low quality manufacturers put products out on the market that were manufactured with substandard battery packs that could catch fire. Those products are now all off the market and in early 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission now demands that all the hoverboards tested and certified UL 2272 compliant to be eligible to be imported into the US. This has essentially ended the fire issue but you should only buy from a reputable manufacturer and never buy a hoverboard manufactured before the middle of 2016. A list of tested hoverboards with the certificate of UL 2272 can be found here.
Hoverboards are still illegal to bring on planes so do not pack one in your luggage.
The main reason they have gotten so popular is because they provide lots of fun for those who get the hang of riding one. The best riders can do all sorts of tricks on a hoverboard.
Photo: Franklin Heijnen