The market for electric skateboards is becoming rather crowded, which is why we're seeing companies getting more and more creative with how riders can move the things around. The Spectra skateboard from New York-based startup Walnutt is the latest example of this, doing away with the typical handheld remote and using sensor pads built into the deck for control instead.
Plenty of electric skateboards have rolled off the production line over the last couple of years, with some interesting points of difference. Some with batteries integrated into the decks, others with motors in the wheels and others hide both away inside the wheels and trucks. But typically, they are all controlled by way of a Bluetooth-connected handheld controller.
Well, not always. In March we looked at the Bird board which did away with this remote and relied on a set of sensors built into the board to control acceleration and braking when pressure is applied. The idea behind this design is that it is apparently easier for novices to get the hang of, and that is the same line being trumpeted by the team behind Spectra.
The company says anyone can learn to ride the Spectra in under five minutes, thanks to what it describes as a 3D Posture Control system. This consists of a set of arrows around the board's edges that sense where pressure is being applied. So leaning forward on the front edge will have the board take off and leaning back will decelerate, while the brakes can be activated by lifting your toes.
Also built into the Spectra board are gyro sensors, which work with the pressure sensors and built-in AI to learn your body's movements over time and make for a smoother ride. This sounds quite similar to the XTND we looked at last month, though that particular electric skateboard would even learn regular routes and suggests ones with less hill-climbing or smoother terrain. This kind of thing certainly sounds cool enough, but it does strike us as the type of thing you'd have to try out to see how useful it all is in practice.
The Spectra board can also be controlled via a smartphone app, allowing users to share riding paths, switch between speed modes, check their battery status or control acceleration in real time.
There are four different models to choose from. The top-of-the-line Spectra Silver features a carbon fiber-magnesium unibody, has a top speed of 21.7 mph (33.8 km/h), range of 20 mi (32 km) and weighs 15.4 lb (7 kg). Currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign, the Silver is available for an early pledge of US$1,199. The other models come in at early bird price points of $839, $539 and $329, though you will be compromising on details such as size, build materials, speed and range.
If all goes according to plans, shipping is expected for October.
You can check out the promo video below.