Motorized skateboards, while awesome, are really nothing new. Over the past few years, we've seen models like the "Board of Awesomeness" (BOA), the Fiik all-terrain electric skateboard and the Metroboard, among others.
The innovation that the ZBoard offers in this increasingly crowded niche market is in its drive system. While the wireless remotes for the Fiik and Metroboard and the Microsoft Kinect-based sensor system on the BOA appear intuitive enough, the ZBoard has what seems like an even more intuitive solution: a weight-sensor system. The board includes front and rear foot pads that are connected to a micro-controller on the motor. The footpads sense pressure, and the micro-controller adjusts the speed of the motor in response to the pressure.
To get the board moving, the rider simply leans forward on the front foot pad. To brake, he leans on the rear foot pad. The board automatically slows the rider's speed on downhills and can be stopped on a hill as well as on flat terrain.
The ZBoard Classic provides up to 5 miles (8 km) of range. Its top speed is listed at 15 mph (24 km/h). The more expensive ZBoard Pro, which uses lithium-ion rather than sealed lead acid batteries for lowered weight and increased performance, takes you as far as 10 miles (16 km) on a single charge with speeds up to 17 mph (27 km/h). The boards come with tires that are advertised as off-road, but they appear a little small for anything more rugged than smooth, even ground.
The ZBoard is designed by Hermosa Beach, California-based Intuitive Motion Inc. The Classic retails for US$599 and the Pro for $849. Both models are available for special pre-order prices ($499 and $749, respectively) until March 15. Deliveries will begin in March.