STORY BY JESSICA SPANGLER
After walking around campus for just a couple of minutes, anyone can see that students use a variety of transportation methods to get to class. Bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and now hoverboards are all favored types of transport.
The hoverboard has just recently become popular with students, and it’s easy to see why. All you have to do is step on, lean in whatever direction you need, and off you go. The only way to steer is by shifting your weight, and they’re powered by electricity.
It takes some time to get the hang of it- good balance is required. The first time you use it, you’ll be inching your way around.
How it works is that the device has motion sensors that feed data into a computer to help you stay upright. The computer then figures out how to work the motor by using that information from the sensors.
The board can sense when the wheel needs to pivot or when the user wants to accelerate.
“I don’t use mine for transportation to get around campus. I mostly use mine just for the fun of moving around on it rather than transportation purposes,” first-year Katie Nguyen said.
Moving around on a hoverboard takes some time to get used to, but once you do, it’s fairly easy to direct it to where you want to go with the slightest pressure. One con, however, is that it’s heavy to carry around- Nguyen’s is 26 pounds.
“I don’t really look at my hover board and think transportation, I look at it as a type of entertainment,” Nguyen said.
She says that one of the main reasons for that is because of its weight. It’s fairly heavy to carry around when you’re not using it, and doesn’t fit easily into a backpack.
“Although hoverboards can go on different types of terrains, I don’t think it’s best to ride it when weather is so unpredictable like here in Iowa,” Nguyen said.
The hoverboards can go from six to fifteen miles per hour depending on which brand you
buy, and usually takes a few hours to completely charge. There’s only one place in Des Moines that sells them, called 515 Hoverboards. They’ll even let you test drive it before you buy it. The price ranges from about $400 to $649.
“I would recommend a hoverboard as a gadget that is just fun to have and play around with but if someone wants to use it for transportation purposes then go ahead,” said Nguyen.
We’re not quite up to par with the hoverboards from Back to the Future Part II, but give it a couple of years and I’m sure we’ll start to see these replaced with real hoverboards.
Another favored form of transportation is longboards, which is a trend that has been picking up in recent years. Many students can be seen zipping around campus, and they’re usually much faster than the hoverboard users.
“It’s in vogue right now. So hipster points,” said Hudson Webber, a sophomore. “I also like to think it improves my sense of balance.”
Longboards are different from regular skateboards because they are around 38 inches instead of 30, which makes them more stable at higher speeds. The softer wheels also have a better grip and are better at making turns.
“Longboarding is super efficient. I can leave five minutes early, instead of ten. It’s just much faster,” said Webber.
Learning how to make your way on a longboard can take longer than learning how to use a hoverboard, and they’re similar in the fact that they cannot be used in rough weather. They’re also heavy to carry around.
“I can’t ride in the rain and it’s annoying lugging this thing around indoors. I have to ride slowly when walking with one of my friends,” adds Webber.
Regardless of your choice of transportation, I’m sure it’s a lot easier than walking- just know that us walkers are definitely jealous.