A Two-Wheeled Revolution

Once upon a time in the long, lost land of Toronto, Canada, it was fabled that people moved from point A to point B in a fashion known as walking. What a concept, right?

Since walking is tiring and generally not as cool as rolling, some genius decided to go ahead and patent a two-wheeled motorized scooter, often labelled as a hoverboard (although it does not hover) that would replace all walking needs.

No one quite knows who the original inventor of the design is as various Canadian, Chinese, and American companies are claiming their rights to it. It seems that everyone is interested in incorporating these hoverboards into daily life. One such Canadian entrepreneur, Darren Pereira, said to the Toronto Star that he’s interested in “pushing public transportation” and that the device would “change the way we move.”

By now you’ve seen various celebrities such as J.R. Smith, Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner shirking billions of years of bipedal evolution in favour of some version of the deconstructed Segway. One the most popular forms, the IO Hawk, is designed as a panel of metal with two individual foot placements and a wheel on both sides. When riding, one can lean forward to go onwards, lean backwards to reverse, or lean from left to right.

The IO Hawk can support up to 280 pounds and can last on a single charge for about 16 to 19 kilometres. Currently, the hardware is not equipped to face the harsh Canadian winters as it is IP54 rated, meaning it can only handle a light dusting or splash of water. The IO Hawk uses digital electronic gyroscopes to control the rider’s balance and motion, all of which is based on one’s own distinct centre of gravity. At 22 pounds, the sleek build of metal and plastic will cost approximately $1,800.

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Photo by Ben Larcey / CC BY

Public reaction to the rise of the non-hovering hoverboards has been polarizing. Various artists and dancers have begun choreographing routines entirely based around their use, and this trend can only grow larger as the IO Hawk’s popularity continues to swell.

Some people are less enthusiastic about the movement, particularly students always in a rush, who say that sidewalks are already congested enough and that they just get in people’s way. On the other hand, riders say they believe that the whole thing is being taken too seriously and that it’s simply a faster way of moving around, particularly on campus.

As for the legality of these boards, there are questions that still need to be answered, especially following the highly publicized arrest of rapper Wiz Khalifa — who refused to get off of one in LAX this past summer.

So far, Great Britain has deemed them as illegal to ride in public. The same was said by Eaton Centre security. “We’ve classified them as personal devices, like a skateboard or scooter,” said one member of the security department. “So in that vein, they are 100 per cent not allowed to be used on mall property.”

For mall security, they give a warning to first-time offenders, who will be asked to dismount it. If they’re caught riding it again, the penalty would be much more severe, “We can confiscate people’s devices indefinitely, and there is the possibility of a fine being applied as well,” the security guard said.

As for street use in Toronto, the mayor’s office has stated that there hasn’t been any sort of complaints against their use yet, but action would be taken if they started to cause problems on the streets.

Already, hoverboards have made waves in the entertainment and tech industries and are persistent in expanding their presence in the mainstream. Looks like we won’t be rolling away from them for a long, long, time.  

Featured image by Ben Larcey / CC BY