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Hoverboards Up In Flames

by Lauren McGowan, In-Depth Staff

Photo by: Jason Heneghan

This Christmas, hoverboards became the hot new must-have item of the season. Millions of kids instantly became satisfied when they found their new self-balancing scooter, or “Swagway” under the tree. The tech toy contains pressure pads and tilt sensors that read the amount of weight shifted onto the board by the user. When tilted forward, it will move forward like a Segway would, however with no handlebar.

“We sold like ten a day, usually, it was insane,” said Brad Ganeff, who worked at a popular hoverboard kiosk in the mall. “We were selling them for $600, but you could get them off eBay for $200.”

It wasn’t too long before the fun had to stop and problems with the new gadget arose. Many kids soon found their new toy up in flames while they plugged it in to charge. Further research has shown that overheating of the lithium-ion battery has caused the board to catch fire.

Bans on the use of the self-balancing vehicle are growing; the United Kingdom, New York City, all major airlines, over 30 college campuses including Boston college, George Washington University, and University of Oregon, and other various cities, have all prohibited their use.

“Just around the house and down to the neighbor’s house,” Nolan Smith describes as to where he rides his brother’s hoverboard. Smith confirmed that no explosions have happened to their hoverboard yet.

Stanford researchers are in the midst of developing a new battery to solve the overheating problem. The new battery design will work by turning itself off when overheated until cooled off. Until then, it might be smart to have a fire extinguisher handy while riding your hoverboard until these problems resolve.