We may still be waiting for the first true hoverboards, but one firm says its single-wheeler feels so like hovering that it's actually called the Hoverboard. The board is mounted atop a 10-in wheel, with users leaning forward to accelerate and backwards to decelerate or change direction.
The Hoverboard is, of course, very similar to last year's One Wheel and that's not something that has escaped the attention of its manufacturer. In a direct comparison with the One Wheel, Hoverboard Technologies claims its single-wheeled electric skateboard is faster, offers a longer rage and is quicker to charge. It's also reported to use sonar technology to stay stable and has API connectivity.
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The 25 lb (11 kg) Hoverboard is powered by a 5,000 W motor, which is part of the drive-unit at the center of the wheel. This delivers a top speed limited to 16 mph (26 km/h) and a range of 12 miles (19 km). The board charges at a rate of 1.5 minutes per mile. The sonar detection informs the board's self-balancing system to keep the board parallel with the ground, while regenerative braking is employed to recover energy and charge the board when going down hills or decelerating.
The board also has LED lighting, and built-in speakers for playing music while you ride. These features are said to use up to 10 percent and negligible amounts of power respectively. An LCD screen on the board displays information for the rider.
In addition to all the technology that's packed into the Hoverboard itself, there's also an accompanying mobile app for Android and iOS. The app running on a Bluetooth connected smart device allows users to activate and lock their one-wheeler, check its charge level and battery health and set speed limits. It's also possible to customize the lighting, play and customize audio and view ride data, such as maximum speed, average speed and distance traveled.
Hoverboard Technologies says it has designed the Hoverboard to be open and serviceable by owners, with a view to ensuring that the lifespan of the boards is maximized. The components used can be swapped out and improved modules can be purchased so that users can carry out their own upgrades.
The board also "checks-in" to Hoverboard Technologies periodically when connected to Wi-Fi. This is so that usage reports can be sent to inform future updates and also for board security. The board will stop working after a few days without checking in via the user's parameters, meaning the board won't work for thieves and to discourage theft in the first place.
A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the Hoverboard is underway. At the time of writing, limited first batch Hoverboards are shown as available at a pledge level of US$3,775. By design, the Kickstarter campaign actually closes on Oct. 21, 2015, which is the day Marty McFly traveled into the future to discover the hoverboard in Back to the Future II. Assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and roll-out, shipping is expected to begin in July 2016.
The video below is the Kickstarter pitch for the Hoverboard.