The Hoverboard Takes Flight

Disclaimer: The hoverboard mentioned in this article does not actually have the capacity to literally hover inches above the ground. It merely mimics the hoverboard by name, not quality.

After watching The Jetsons as a child, my imagination was constantly filled with visions of a future filled with unbelievable technology. My childish, unrestricted vision of the future held time travel machinery, flying cars, and even laser guns; all things that I had believed possible. Today, if you go to a mall, visit your friend’s house, or even look on social media, you will see the first sign of my childish dream of the future.

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Photo credit: SoarBoards.com

What’s been labeled by the media as “a hoverboard” is a two-wheeled, self-balancing device that allows an individual to move at speeds from six to ten miles per hour. (If you go over the suggested maximum of ten miles per hour, you are greeted with a warning beep). Most, if not all of these machines have a lithium ion battery that is rechargeable, making them eco-friendly. There is a built-in gyroscope which automatically stabilizes your upright body, and in addition there are four sensors located under the mats where your feet are positioned. These sensors help you balance and glide on many surfaces, ideally making you look suave and effortlessly smooth. Each hoverboard comes equipped with 6.5 inch wheels and blue LED lights located in the front that seem to beckon or call those who look their way once they begin to spin.

The hoverboard’s inception and origin is almost impossible to pinpoint from an exact source. However, the region that it did originate from is one of the most technologically innovative and industrial nations in the world: China. Because China’s industrial economy is incredibly fast-paced and provides a minuscule amount of documentation, to see who claimed to have produced the hoverboard first would be like trying to differentiate one twin from another. The most plausible origin begins with a company by the name of Chic Robotics (also known as Hangzhou Chic Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd), founded in 2013. Chic’s first scooter, the Smart S1, was released in August 2014, and seemed to be the first of its kind. The catalyst for this relatively unknown product at the time was the showing of the Smart S1 at the Canton Fair, China’s largest trade show. Here, over 180,000 buyers from around the globe gather to see the newest tech the Chinese have to offer. The board instantly attracted multitudes of consumers and ultimately caught the attention of other companies in China, who began to rapidly produce the same exact product, often photoshopping over the Smart logo as if it were their own.

The hoverboards themselves have rapidly gained popularity in the past six months through a variety of mediums and for many reasons. Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, as well as athletes such as J.R. Smith, Usain Bolt, and former boxing champion Mike Tyson have been shown riding, or falling, on their hover boards through social media. Thus the hoverboard quickly drew attention from all ages, including parents wondering what exactly they were looking at, and children who eagerly desired to receive and ride their very own. Social media has been perhaps the most successful voice contributing to the sale and success of hoverboards. Recently, instagram, twitter, facebook, and other social media, have been torrented with hoverboard videos, from tutorials, to epic fails, to numerous dances utilizing the hoverboards as well.

As alluring as the hoverboards have been to the younger generation, governmental bodies and legislatures have found them less exciting. As the usage of the hoverboards has drastically increased, many alarming videos and stories have emerged documenting their danger. Not only are individuals falling off the boards and injuring themselves, but some hoverboards have been prone to self igniting, or spontaneously catching fire. These issues are linked to the low-quality boards that have been hastily manufactured by companies attempting to capitalize on the newfound craze. In addition, these fires can be caused by an incompatibility with the rechargeable battery and the charger of these boards. This explosive nature of the hoverboards has generated lawsuits from a burned down house in Louisiana, as well as Alabama. These explosive qualities make the hoverboard a liability, and as a result they have been banned or prohibited in many places, such as public streets in Germany, New York City, and within England and Wales except on private property. Furthermore, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera banned hoverboard use for the team prior to their win in the NFC Championship this past Sunday to make sure that they remained healthy.

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Christmas Day. Photo credit: Excellence Perry.

My experience with the hoverboard, however, is not just limited to videos and articles that I have seen online. Much to our surprise, this Christmas my sister Triumph and I both received them. Triumph, unlike me, has a greater affinity and love for her hoverboard. Every day when I return home from school, I walk into our kitchen and witness one of her many 10-15 minute “practice sessions,” during which she shows off new found tricks, such as riding on her knees, one-legged joyrides, and infinite 360’s, while flexing her prowess. In fact, her infatuation with the hoverboards has reached new heights, as she has decided to perform a dance piece to the song “Hold My Hand” by Jess Glynne while on her hoverboard in her upcoming talent show!

While the hoverboard has created newfound enjoyment and futuristic technology for those who have them, they can also become a liability and danger as well. It remains to be seen the what further effects hover-mania will induce, but for now they are to be enjoyed at your own risk.

About the author

Excellence Perry is a junior at Collegiate School and wants you to know that this is in fact his real name.