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Dawn of the Balance Scooter

Posted December 02, 2015 10:30 AM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: gyroscope mobility scooter Segway

What did you do on Black Friday? If you're like me, you drove home from Thanksgiving and avoided leaving the house due to the yearly sales armageddon. Instead, any and all shopping was done from my recliner with my tablet.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing gifts of the year is the e-scooter. Or electric hoverboard. Or mini Segway. Is there a consensus on what to call these things yet?

It's this...(video plays on YouTube)

That is perhaps the first advertisement for this product that appeared in China in 2014. Due to China's lax copyright and trade protection enforcement, these self-balancing scooters were rapidly copycatted and have spread to the States. A product that was selling in the U.S. for $600-plus just six months ago can now be purchased this holiday for less than $300.

Prepare to see these everywhere because they seem insanely fun. Pro football players are using them to save their legs precious steps. Celebrities have been posting them on social media for over a year (and big jerk Chris Brown is actually awesome on his).

Overall, the engineering behind these is rather simple. It starts with a two-component steel frame assembled with a short central axis; many scooters can accommodate loads up to 350 lb. Electric motors are integrated into the wheels of the scooter, as are tilt sensors. When the user begins to lean forward the tilt sensors send this input to a speed controller, gyroscope and PLC. The scooter accelerates to catch up with the user's center of gravity. Turning is controlled by pressure or infrared sensors that determine when the user has their feet tilted in opposite ways.

The device also contains a battery pack, typically a 36V 4400mAH, as well as all needed circuits and interfaces. Some balance scooters include a remote for on/off, locking and mode toggle. LED lighting and Bluetooth speakers are other options. A plastic case furnishes the finished look and protects internal components. These scooters top out around 6 mph, so basically the same speed of a brisk walk anyway. Terrain is undoubtedly the primary challenge for these scooters. They typically have 6.5 inch wheel diameters, so smooth or near-smooth surfaces are always needed. Some competing models, such as the FREEFOOT, has a top speed of 10 mph and 10 inch wheels, making it much more useful.

All signs point to balance scooters being a fad, but they're everywhere right now. And never has a fad enabled personal mobility on this scale (if you're an adult who wore Heely's, it's time to reevaluate some other things). Even if the balance scooter is a dead product in two or three years, it is providing a glimpse at how personal mobility is becoming mechanized and interconnected. Surely another company and product will build on this niche of wearable technology in years to come.


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Re: Dawn of the Balance Scooter

12/02/2015 12:26 PM
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
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Re: Dawn of the Balance Scooter

12/02/2015 12:58 PM

Checking now to see if I can put it on the CR4 credit card...

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Re: Dawn of the Balance Scooter

12/02/2015 11:03 PM

I bought one a couple of weeks ago and they are FUN!

On the left coast they are called hover-boards by the "cool" kids.

I used mine to take the car in for service and popped it out of the trunk, much easier than a bike, and cruised home. The do not like bumps, dips, or twigs, which I was lucky enough to discover that, but I still think they are fun. FYI, just turned 50 and do not heal as fast as I used to, but I will still play with it.

WARNING: If you give or get one, wear PPE, gloves with wrist guard, knee/elbow pads, helmet. The same as a rollerskating kit.

My girlfriend and her 10 year old had a great time, I think her and her son will use it most, going to the park or cruising around the neighborhood. A good way to hang out together and get out of the house.

And after the fad fades, I bet I could make it into some other cool gadget.

Be safe and enjoy.


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Re: Dawn of the Balance Scooter

12/03/2015 6:51 PM

I think in my case, I would look into renting a walker for the time it takes to get used to the " scooter". I really don't need a cast on any extremity being over 60 (or for my crown).

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Re: Dawn of the Balance Scooter

12/03/2015 4:13 AM

These & Segways have been made illegal to use on the streets here in the UK so, unfortunately, they can only be used as toys on private property.

I didn't have a really important life, but at least it's been funny (Lemmy Kilminster 1945-2015)
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Re: Dawn of the Balance Scooter

12/03/2015 10:22 AM

To your point, this just in from Mashable. There's a link in this article to an Octob er article about hoverboards catching fire.


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Re: Dawn of the Balance Scooter

02/13/2016 2:14 PM

RideMyHoverboard should has some great list of deals and reviews to buy hoverboards!

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