Under my feet is 24 pounds of fun. Two wheels, a platform and a pair of motors that responds as much to my thoughts as they do physical gesture. Or at least it seems that way.
My hoverboard, the safer, legal and not recalled Swagtron, may be the last of a dying breed, a reminder of that brief period when millions of us were finally traveling in 21st century style. Of the moment before people with no business hopping on a hoverboard mounted the plastic and metal steeds in a doomed effort to look young and fleet of foot.
I have in my possession artifacts of this bygone era, a handful of Swagways (and one, terrifying no-name model) that now must all go silently back to their maker. None of them are broken. None exploded. None ever threw me off. I rode them carefully then gleefully, then constantly.
When the hammer came down and the government declared all hoverboards illegal, they were banned from the office and so I hid them away.
I knew the government was right. Too many hoverboards had been sold and were in use with too little oversight.
On the other hand, I secretly blamed operator error and user abuse.
I’d had my hoverboards for months without a single incident. These fires, meltdowns and injuries were surely products of both bad design and user abuse.
Not that it matters.
As the Consumer Product Safety Commission pulls the thread on a half million hoverboards, carefully drawing them back into the unhappy arms of a dozen manufacturers and retailers, they likely also draw to a close the hoverboard’s day in the sunshine.
Even as Swagway and Segway (which works differently than the former, but shares the hoverboards’ balancing and lean-to-go technology) do their best to revive the craze and show people that there can be fun and utility in this still-new mode of intelligent transportation, public interest has evaporated.
What hoverboards are actually returned in this recall have already spent months in the shed, garage or closet, disused, ignored. Others were so feared that they were probably discarded, spending the best years of their lives in the trash heap.
Cars survive countless recalls, why not hoverboards? The difference is car recalls refer to a specific make and model. This is for all hoverboards. It’s a tainting of an entire class of product. Imagine a bread recall instead of a Wonder Bread recall.
There is surely no coming back from this, at least not for Hoverboards and their ilk.
Perhaps with some serious cultural rebranding, they could glide back into our lives. Swagway is doing its best to redesign and rebrand, even if the Swagtron is unmistakably another hoverboard. “Hoverboard” was a misnomer, anyway. I suggest Gliders, Robo-riders, or, more realistically, Balance Boards.
I will pack up my old Swagways and send them back. But for this rider, be prepared to tear the Swagtron on which I roll as I write this from my cold, dead – whoa, that was way too dark. Seriously, if you want me to stop riding this one, too, I will probably comply.
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