What Is a Hoverboard?
A hoverboard (or hover board) is a fictional levitating board used for personal transportation, first described by author M. K. Joseph in 1967 and popularized by the Back to the Future film franchise, generally a skateboard without wheels.
Another method of achieving levitation is superconductivity, used by the Slide hoverboard. These hoverboards can’t actually levitate, a la “Back to the Future Part II.” Instead, they use wheels to roll across the ground. It sounds lame, but really, they’re far more fun to ride than a skateboard. Ignoring the reality, the hoverboard moniker has stuck in pop culture. So for this article, that’s what I’m calling them.
The more accurate name is “self-balancing scooter,” and what you get is a two-wheeled motorized gadget. These scooters look and work like miniature Segways, minus the handlebars, moving forward when you lean forward and braking and reversing when you lean back. And as with a Segway scooter, you face forward while riding, instead of facing to one side as you would with a skateboard. You control and steer them with subtle movements of your feet, legs and torso.
Hoverboards have two pressure-sensitive footpads that control your speed and allow you to steer with your feet. The boards begin moving when you step on, which makes them tricky to mount and dismount. Because there is no handle to steady yourself, getting your balance can be tough and it’s easy to fall off while you get used to the board. You’ll use your core to keep yourself balanced and also feel the burn in your calves and feet, since the muscles in those areas help you steer.