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Toy time: Zoom around!

Elizabeth Mathew | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 16, 2016

A boy rides a hoverboard in Santa Monica, California, United States, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson   -  Reuters

Hoverboards are making it to many a must-have list this season. Here's what all the fuss is about.

The latest toy that seems to have caught everyone’s fancy – and made it to many a wishlist – is what’s being called (for all purposes) a hoverboard.

Don’t get your hopes up though – its not really the hoverboard Marty McFly used in the Back to the Future series, although there are some of those in the making as well, if Hendo and Lexus are to be believed. But until they can invent one that can stay in the air for more than seven minutes at a stretch, here’s what you can play with.

What’s in a name?

First things first – what’s going around the market under the moniker of ‘hoverboard’ doesn’t hover at all. A more appropriate name would be ‘self-balancing scooters’ or ‘motorized personal transporters’ or ‘two-wheeled smart electric drifting boards’ – now you see why they went with ‘hoverboards’ instead.

Basically a two-wheeled scooter without any support to help with the balancing, hoverboards are great for zooming around on smooth surfaces for short distances. Self-balancing means you need to use your core muscles to keep going, and steering involves subtle shifting of weight on your feet and calves. How’s that for a leg day workout? Lean forward to move ahead and lean back to reverse and brake, the learning curve depends on how well-balanced you are. And not having anything to hold on to makes it a little bit more challenging, but also more fun for the new user.

Built basically with platforms for your two feet and wheels on either side, hoverboards work because of the gyroscope and speed control boards within it. The tilt sensors in the wheels work such that you are supposed to lean a little left if you want to turn right – and vice versa – which would explain the slightly steep learning curve.

Watch out!

Like all good things, this one too comes with a caveat or two. After a couple of unsavoury incidents involving hoverboards, some authorities have restricted the use of hoverboards, on sidewalks and roads – especially because they are not (yet) designed to be able to handle cracks and rough surfaces. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it should not be left to charge for extended periods of time, like overnight, and be well aware of the maximum and minimum weight limits. These may differ for each brand.

Brands that sell hoverboards include IO Hawk, Swagway, Phunkeeduck and Hovertrax, and prices start from about $400 (₹26,900 approximately).

Published on March 16, 2016
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