When considering electric transportation methods, a skateboard usually isn’t the first set of wheels that comes to mind. However, thanks to the advent of new technology, the long-time vehicle of choice by kids and rebel teens alike has shone a new light on daily commuting. Some of the latest decks are equipped with remote control devices, as well as the ability to be controlled by the mind.
When 50% of the world’s car trips are under five miles, and public transportation systems often leave the passengers walking the last mile to their destinations, it’s no wonder manufacturers are looking to market the electric skateboard as an eco-friendly alternative to getting around traffic while saving gas. It’s becoming a great commuting option for those with balance, according to William Hurley, co-founder of electric boarding pioneers, Chaotic Moon. “In fact,” Hurley remarks, “Several companies have emerged in the past two years in attempt to grab a piece of this growing market.” He mentions that the two largest trends in the market are controlling devices and battery options.
“Many manufacturers have designed new board interfacing methods, including handheld radios and deck inserts to enable hands-free operation. But undoubtedly the greatest innovation in this market,” Hurley continues, “Is from the team at Boosted Boards lead by Sanjay Dastoor. They’ve created a board as aesthetically pleasing as it it is technically capable.”
Boosted Boards, initially funded by a Kickstarter project (receiving almost $500,000 from crowdsourcing, well exceeding it’s initial $100,000 goal), are known to produce the world’s lightest electric vehicle. Weighing in at twelve pounds, which is less than bicycle, these boards can be charged in the average home outlet in fifteen minutes.
The motor of the board is compact enough to fit in the palm and built from components that can be purchased from the local toy store. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though; it’s powerful enough to ride uphill in Georgia at 20 mph, and the remote can control the acceleration as well as pilot the board in reverse.
In his recent TED Talk, Dastoor remarks on the board. “[It] uses one-twentieth of the amount of energy utilized for every mile or kilometer travelled than a car does, which means it’s not only quick to charge and inexpensive to build, but also it reduces your energy usage footprint in terms of transportation. Instead of each person consuming vast amounts of energy to get around,” Dastoor continues, “Now much less is used for more manageable transportation. The next time you think to go vehicle shopping we hope that you consider something new.”
When regarding brain controlled skateboards, Chaotic Moon’s decks are among the first to implement the technology. Riders wear specialized headsets to read the output of their brain, in form of alpha, delta, beta, or theta waves. These signals are then transferred via Bluetooth to a Samsung tablet attached the skateboard, operating on Windows 8. From there, the data is interpreted and converted to analog instructions in order to control the board.
According to William Hurley, “Electric skateboards are becoming a popular means of commuting within the city. Brain computer interface systems are also gaining more interest as the technology becomes less expensive and the capabilities are improved.”
Looking ahead, he believes we may be able to find a way to direct a board from a smart phone. For now though, the top priorities for manufacturers are, “Battery power as well as some safety features, like proximity sensors that would be beneficial to the amateur skater.”