The Arka Tech

To hover… or not to hover

In the competition for consumption, we got it wrong again: hover boards.

Arkansas Tech University released a statement banning the use or housing of self-balancing scooters, also known as hover boards, on the Tech campus.

“The safety of the Arkansas Tech community is always our No. 1 priority,” the release read. “Individuals who own these devices are encouraged to read safety guidelines provided by the National Fire Protection Association.”

Among the 300 codes, policies and news releases dating back to 2003, the NFPA has posted the following tips about hover board safety.

•Choose a device with the seal of an independent testing laboratory.
•Do not leave a charging hover board unattended.
•Stop using your hover board if it over heats.
•Extreme hot or cold temperature can hurt the battery.
•When riding in a car, keep the hover board where you can see it in case it shows signs of a problem.

The website defines “signs of a problem” as “leaking fluids, excessive heat, odor, sparking, smoke.” If you experience any of these problems, you’re encouraged to call 911.

The NFPA news release alone leaves little to be argued over why Tech banned hover boards.

In fact, Tech is a late follower in the ban against hover boards; since last month, more than 30 schools have reportedly banned hover boards. The Huffington Post reported the following schools either limited or outright banned the use and storage of hover boards on their campuses; American University; George Washington University; Louisiana State University; University of Iowa; University of Arkansas; Ohio State University.

Among the numerous problems people with hover boards experience since their October 2015 release, there seems to be another problem not yet determined; operator error.

Technology adoption is not a new thing; it happened with telephones, vaccinations, the printing press, you name it. But the need for individuals, called “early adopters”, to purchase and begin using this technology can easily be linked to reasons like self-gratification or “keeping up with the Jones’”. Curiosity also ranks high as a trait among early adopters; however, the underlying theme is these are the people who find the kinks, and potentially get hurt.

Ask yourself; why do you have to have a combustible, mini-Segway right now? Self gratification? Societal expectation? Because it’s “hot”?
Many blogs have claimed hover boards provide for an improved sense of mobility, a new perspective from which to see the world and that they’re much more cost effective when compared to electric scooters and vehicles.

In fact, creator of one of the original hover boards, Greg Henderson, founder of Arx Pax, a company looking to change the world via “magnetic field architecture”, was quoted in a March 2015 The Guardian article as saying hover board application was originally intended for, “smaller-scale applications like the ability to flip a switch to levitate computer servers or even wine racks.”

The intention was there; the technology was not. Today’s hover boards have caused their fair share of injury, whether fire related or operator related. Levitation has yet to be achieved.

Eight months after The Guardian article was released, 2015 was dubbed “the year of the hover board” and people from China to the United States took advantage of the latest technology. Unfortunately, problems are still occurring today.

The product, which has only been on the market for a maximum of 4 months, has already reportedly had certain brands removed from Amazon, while others have posed a purported health risk in the UK because they “literally blow up.”

Despite the innovative technology that provides a new form of transportation for the world, it’s obvious a couple kinks need to be worked out before the hover board is even deemed safe by a number of organizations.

Despite the drift forward hover boards provide us, maybe we should take a step back, and off, the product. Instead of celebrating the technology from “Back to the Future”, let’s go back to the drawing board and create a safer product.