“Hoverboard” curiosity

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Arjun (left) Abraham (Right)

Emily Kercher

The 2008 animated children’s film WALL-E is slowly becoming reality. The balance board (a.k.a hoverboard, or “mini segway”) is beginning to trend in America. The board was brought to West Ottawa this year and sparked a widespread curiosity.

China originally coined the idea for the board serving currently as the main source for consumers. If an average person from America wanted to buy a hoverboard, they couldn’t go to Walmart or Bestbuy. They’d need to order online from a Chinese retailer or Amazon, which would ship from China. As the board gained popularity in China, the companies that manufacture them began to give popular Viners and Youtubers the boards to advertise in America and other countries.

Spotted at WO riding the boards between buildings at passing time is Sr. Abraham Flores and Jr. Arjun Patel

What was your reason for buying this?

“I wanted it because I didn’t want to walk in between buildings and it looked fun,” Flores said.

I got it because of him,” Patel said (referencing Flores)

As people see more and more people with the boards, they’re  becoming a trend here too.

Where all do you use it?

“Around the block, and walking distances,” Flores said.

However, the boys noted the balance boards being strictly monitored. The board can go up to 15 mph, which means that it is treated like “running” in a store atmosphere. They were asked to get off of their boards in Target because of the safety and store liability.

How much does it cost?  

“Mine cost $430.I had to pay half,” Petal said. His board being significantly larger.

“Mine was $300,” Flores said.

It’s possible to purchase the board for $100, but it’s also possible to get them for more than $500.

The average price ranges on the high side of $300.

How’d you get it? (where’d you buy it):

“A Chinese store shipped (it to me) overseas,” Petal said.

Most of the sales in America come from China through a website such as Amazon or Ebay. The boards can take up to weeks for them to arrive, the boys said.

The board is so high tech and high risk that they have their own insurance on them! There’s a liability for letting someone ride their boards. If anyone else happened to ride and get hurt, they could even sue if they really wanted to. Underneath the footing spots there are lights on the board to light the way in the dark, and different wheel sizes depending on the board. The wheels are sometimes so small that they’re unable to go on the grass, but also large enough that they can manage pot holes. The boys experienced some trouble already. “The tire keeps getting flat,” Patel said. “When I get off of mine the wheels keep moving,” Flores added.

Do you ride it between buildings?

“Yes, but I already fell,” Petal said. Flores fell too and has a visible scrape on his arm. He said that doesn’t discourage him from riding, though.  The boys said they don’t limit riding to between buildings. Sometimes they ride in their neighborhoods and around walking distances; however, once they reach their destination, they’re required to carry the board most of the time while indoors. Their families find themselves adjusting to them riding them around the house to do day to day tasks as simple as getting a snack from the kitchen.

The board turned out to be really simple to ride. It’s responsive to pressure displacement. When the rider leans his weight forward, the board accelerates that way, and vise versa. If they want to stop, they must simply balance in the middle of the board. They can turn by distributing their weight from one leg or the other. The board remains stationary until both feet step on top of the correct place. Then, the board will respond to the pressure and move.

The boards come in a variety of different colors and sizes to pick and choose from. The bigger they are, the more terrain they can cover; however, they’re tougher to maneuver when they’re larger.

To start it, the board first starts by being charged into a wall with a cord. A charge lasts 7 hours and takes 4 hours to complete. A 7 hour trip going 15 miles per hour could get someone 105 miles away on one charge!

The machines qualify as expensive enough to deserve some sort of casing as well. The boys both neglected to purchase a case because they run about $40, but they still say they’re going to carrying them around without one until they have an incident. They haven’t yet tested them in the snow.

They also come with stickers and accessories that they can put on the boards as well and even a Bluetooth capability (if purchased separately).

With this new technology taking flight, the question of what will become of America and what the future holds for the health of humans. Our trends become normal after awhile, this specific trend being one of many that contributes to America’s poor health and lack of hard work. Either way, technology these days doesn’t fall short of groundbreaking, WO is fortunate enough to be able to partake in what’s going on and the new things that are becoming big.