Hoverboards hit the market with explosive effect


by Ashley Jiang and Derek Yen

The hoverboard glides smoothly down the sidewalk, its vibrant lights casting colorful rays onto the pallid pavement. As its user gently shifts their weight from side to side, the board makes graceful, sinuous turns. These slick, agile hoverboards are the newest vehicles on the market, giving riders a chance to experience the thrills of a segway on a smaller scale.

The first hoverboard concepts, designed as levitating skateboards, were a futuristic method of transportation used in the films “Back to the Future Part II” and “Back to the Future Part III”.

These hoverboards are less like skateboards and more like handlebar-less segways. They are powered by lithium batteries and allow the rider to effortlessly steer with their feet.

Several students who own hoverboards said that learning how to control the board was difficult, but ultimately enjoyable.

“When you start off, it’s really hard to keep your balance, but once you get used to it, it’s so much easier than walking,” Shivani Awasthi (11) said. “I really like riding on it and it’s fun to do little spins and stuff.”

Concerns have surfaced regarding hoverboards’ safety. Some hoverboard users have reported injuries from falling off while riding them.

“So the first time I did it, I was off-balance,” Jayaad Ali (10) said. “My mom even fractured her elbow, but after about three days, it was really fun.”

Reports of product unreliability are also common for both knock-off generic brands from China and “official” brands such as Phunkeeduck and IOHawk.

“We had to send our first hoverboard back for repair because it had some issues,” Shivani said. “It would shake sometimes when we got onto it.”

In worst case scenarios, users have reported hoverboards catching fire and exploding while charging. Recently, an Oklahoma City home caught fire due to an explosion caused by a hoverboard. In another case, a newly-bought hoverboard exploded while charging and set a Louisiana home ablaze.

In response to these accidents, online retailer Amazon stated that we will provide full refunds on all hoverboards bought through them.

Continued safety incidents with hoverboards have caused the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) to issue a statement on their usage:

“While the fire hazard has generated significant attention, I do not want to downplay the fall hazard,” USCPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye wrote in the statement. “Some of these injuries have been serious, including concussions, fractures, contusions/abrasions and internal organ injuries.”

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on Jan. 27, 2016