Updated: Apr 14
How does a hoverboard work? What exactly is a hoverboard? What is all the fuss about? We explain both the technical and the cultural reasons that makes hoverboard's work as the top-rated electric scooter gift of the moment.
Hoverboards are the next big thing in motorized transport and they are being portrayed as the coolest gadgets in town, which they definitely are. It’s amazing to see how someone’s imagined gadget from almost three decades ago has become today’s reality.
If you love cool gadgets, 80s movie references, and adventure, then a hoverboard is going to be your perfect companion. The purpose of hoverboards is to make you look cool while you have fun riding them and that purpose is being rightly served!
« Hoverboards owe their recent popularity to Hollywood celebrities like Justin Bieber, Whiz Khalifa and Kendall Jenner gliding in on hoverboards at concerts, on the streets, and in high-profile events. They’re now available in all kinds of colors and shades including customized graffiti. ».
What Exactly is a Hoverboard?
The modern avatar of the hoverboard is a self-balancing board with a platform that gives you the sensation of flight. Hoverboards have an average speed of 10 mph. Once fully charged, they can travel a distance of up to 15 miles.
Although real hoverboard's don’t actually levitate or fly, they can be a lot of fun to use. All you have to do is step on and the hoverboard starts moving. You can control the speed, turn and other factors by small movements of your feet, legs and torso.
These self-balancing electric scooters remain upright with the help of pressure sensors and microprocessors that gather information about the board’s tilt. Learning how to use a hoverboard can be a little tricky at first because you can’t use your hands, but after some practice (and maybe a few falls) you will be zooming around the streets of your city with ease.
Are Hoverboards Actually Hoverboards?
This is an important clarification: hoverboards are not exactly ‘hover’boards like the one you saw in Back to The Future II. Unlike in the movies, hoverboards have wheels but they are still fun to use with some imagination.
The reason hoverboards became a sensation amongst a large portion of adventure seekers is that they are battery-powered, unlike skateboards and kick scooters.This means that they can travel at faster speeds without much effort on the part of the user. They’re also easier to learn to use than skateboards and more exciting than scooters, and your hoverboarding skills can be mastered in a matter of days.
Also, you need to know that the non self-balancing electric scooters are like kick scooters, but powered. They have a handlebar, inline wheels and are quite unlike the self-balancing type discussed here.
How Does a Hoverboard Work?
The geekier side of you might wonder about the technology behind a self-propelling two-wheeled platform that balances and counter-balances your weight while attaining a reasonable speed. This tiny device has several parts that work in conjunction to ensure smooth hands-free motion. Any hoverboard will have these basic components, though there may be some variation between brands and models:
The wheels contain electric motors and tilt and speed sensors. The latter detects the RPM of an individual wheel and sends the information to the gyroscope and speed control boards that are placed in the main frame, right next to the wheels.
Platform with Gyroscope and Speed Control Boards:
When the gyroscope and speed control boards receive the tilt information and RPM from the sensor inside the wheels, they send the data to the main logic board.
The logic board is the brain of the hoverboard. This is where the processor computes in real time: the status of the board, the speed at which it’s travelling, the relative speed and the tilt of the individual wheels (when you turn, both the wheels have opposing tilts. Therefore, they have opposing RPMs and motions).
A majority of hoverboards use 36V 4400mAH battery packs to reduce the need for frequent charging. These components combine to build a hoverboard which has a frame that pivots in the center.
The gyroscopes of a hoverboard are meant to receive data from tilt sensors in the wheels and relay it to the logic board, ultimately keeping the hoverboard upright on its own. Both the footpads have switches underneath that trigger an infrared LED light, which further triggers a sensor.
While your feet are flat, the light remains on, letting the logic board know that there’s no need to run the motors. As soon as the rider positions themselves (leaning forward or backwards), the switch turns off the LED light and the sensor notifies the logic board that it’s time to run the motors.
The motors on each wheel are independent of one another which means they can move the wheels in opposite directions- that’s why you can move in circles while using your hoverboard. The hoverboard will run on its straight course as long as the sensor detects the LED light.
The light is only interrupted when the switch gets pushed due to the shift in body weight. If someone is turning left, their foot activates the front right switch, making the right wheel spin forward, while your left foot activates the back left switch, making the left wheel spin backwards.
When you lean forward, the motors are made to spin faster by the logic board- this is basically to help the device sync with your center of gravity. This simple yet effective concept helps you control the speed and direction of the hoverboard with your body weight.