North Texas Daily

That hoverboard isn’t that cool, plus it could explode

That hoverboard isn’t that cool, plus it could explode

February 11
00:21 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer

@presto_mitch

While “Back to the Future Part II” rocks, its vision for 2015 hasn’t quite panned out. The hoverboard, which was popularized by Marty McFly as a literal hovering saucer that resembled a skateboard, was every child’s dream the moment it appeared on screen.

Being a huge “BTTF” fan growing up, hoverboards looked awesome to me. Watching McFly miraculously evade bullies by surfing around the laws of physics was a wondrous sight to behold.

That being said, the sad excuse for hoverboards available to us in 2016 aren’t just a sad knockoff of the vision given to us all those years ago, they can be quite dangerous. For our generation, “hoverboard” is something of a vague term and not at all reminiscent of the one we were crossing our fingers for. It refers to self-balancing, electric scooters powered by lithium-ion batteries with two ugly wheels and cheap, hard plastic.

New scooters range in prices from $200 to $1,800 making them glorified Segways for people who are too cheap to buy a real Segway. Despite their lackluster appearance, they have become extremely existent in today’s market for those with enough money to blow on flamboyant, impractical transportation.

With these supposed advantages in mind, many of the hoverboards owned by visible students “peddle” at a walking speed with campus long-boarders and fast-walkers easily outpacing them. Sure, owners of the faster hoverboards are possibly just being courteous to pedestrians, but these individuals can be hard to find in a sea of slug-like zombies humming their way to class.

At the same time, it’s ridiculous that someone in a rush can out-walk even the most experienced hoverboard user.

In addition, the reliability of hoverboards is generally lackluster. Within the past few months, these motorized two-wheelers have been reported to catch fire in legion. Most notably includes the Louisiana, New York, and Washington pyres that damaged homes and a mall. Therefore, many of the available hoverboards aren’t even safe.

This stems from how China packages the lithium-ion batteries into the product. Since the upper-echelon models are made with obvious hazards in mind, more affordable brands produce hoverboards with substantially cheaper components. And thus, cheaper lithium-ion is used to accommodate the shoddier models.

Once these cheap hoverboards reach their maximum speeds, the interior lithium-ion is punctured and combusts. In short, the hoverboards that most college kids use are mini-combustibles waiting to ignite.

Problems with lithium-ion are not new. Ever since Sony commercialized the first lithium-ion battery in 1991, they’ve exploded inside smartphones, cars and laptops. However, the difference between standard electronics and hoverboards is that the latter was meant to be science fiction.

Despite the hoverboard’s popularity, it seems to be more of a fad than game-changing carriage. Segways are practically the same technology and its handlebars safen the user’s ride.

All in all, until we get an actual floating skateboard that defies the laws of gravity, let’s leave the hoverboards in 1989.

Featured Image: Sean Atkins, 9, rides his hoverboard at South Lakes Park. Kristen Watson | DRC

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1 Comment

  1. Jesse
    Jesse March 07, 14:37

    >Despite the hoverboard’s popularity, it seems to be more of a fad than game-changing carriage. Segways are practically the same technology and its handlebars safen the user’s ride.

    Yeah I agree, but I think the hoverboard got it more correct as far as its target demographic than the segway did. Hoverboards are marketed more as a kid’s toy while the segway tried to be some super serious mode of transportation for business people or something, and failed completely because it was ridiculous.

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