Beyond board: are hovershoes the next personal transport trend? – words Al Woods
When hoverboards were first released in 2014 they received huge media attention. This was partly due to their memorable name, partly due to their hordes of celebrity endorsers and partly due to the range of memorable YouTube videos showing off what you could do on a board.
Hoverboards sold exceptionally well and it has become common to see everyone from small children to teenagers and even adults playing around on their hoverboards.
You could have been forgiven for thinking that hoverboards were going to be a fad – one year of big sales before slipping off into obscurity. But hoverboards have displayed enduring resilience and longevity. Despite early negative publicity surrounding the safety of models, they have been a best-seller at every Christmas since their release and remaining popular all year round.
And now there is a new product being sold by hoverboard manufacturers – hovershoes are effectively two miniature self-balancing hoverboards; one for each foot. But will hovershoes achieve the same popularity as their forerunners, or is this a step too far?
The secret to the long-term popularity of hoverboards
How have hoverboards been able to go from a hot product to one that consistently sells well? Well there might be many reasons for this, but undoubtedly one of the most important is the fact that hoverboards were never subject to copyright. The original inventor and creator of hoverboards is disputed, and this means that there is no-one who owns the rights outright.
While this has meant that there is no specific brand to lead the market, is has also created an unusual situation where anyone can bring out their own version of the hoverboard, leading to a fantastic level of innovation. Instead of sitting back and relying the on the excellent sales of hoverboards – manufactures have competed to stay ahead of others.
This has led to off-road hoverboards that can tackle bumpy terrain and kits to turn your hoverboard into a buggy. And hovershoes are another case in point – these have evolved out of companies looking to do something a little different to create interest and boost sales.
Will hovershoes take off?
So, hovershoes are the latest innovation in a long line of new products to be sold by hoverboard manufacturers. But are they likely to become a trend of their own? They certainly hold some advantages over traditional hoverboards that could help to make them a very popular product in their own right.
Let’s take a look at them: hovershoes function as two individually-powered hoverboards. Whereas a hoverboard could be crudely described as a motorised skateboard, hovershoes are more like motorised roller-skates. The shoes come with an additional advantage that they can easily be combined using a rod attachment, so that they can be used as a hoverboard.
One of the criticisms of hoverboards is that they have a limited range of manoeuvrability. This can make it difficult to perform a variety of tricks, spins and stunts. They are also lighter and easier to move around so they can be carried anywhere that you want to go.
Source: Bluefin Trading Ltd
How and where to use hovershoes
It is still the case that it is illegal in the UK to use hoverboards either on the road or the pavement, which limits riders to private property (with the owner’s permission). It seems that the same will be true of hovershoes, which means you can only technically use them on your own property as well as some public spaces such as parks; although you should always check with your local council.
Of course these restrictions have not slowed down the success of the hoverboard and there is no reason to think that they will stop hovershoes from gaining popularity. However, they are currently more expensive that their hoverboard equivalents but this is to be expected from a brand new product.
Only time will tell whether hovershoes can match the popularity – and more importantly, the longevity – of the hoverboard. But certainly motorised personal transportation is craze that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.