Hoverboards have become an essential toy for modern kids and a great leisure activity for adults. Riders may wonder, however, where hoverboards came from and how they got to be such a huge part of life in the 21st century. Read on to learn more about this popular form of personal transportation and where it came from.
Most experts largely credit the film Back to the Future 2 for planting the initial idea of a hoverboard into the collective consciousness. Modern hoverboards, however, can be traced back to one person.
A Chinese American by the name of Shane Chen is credited as the inventor of what we now call a hoverboard or a self-balancing scooter. Here are some facts about the larger-than-life figure.
Shane Chen invented the first working self-balancing scooter in 2013 while working for a company called Hovertrax. The prototype was called “the purple board” and it went through several iterations before the design was finalized. Interestingly, Hovertrax was purchased by RazorUSA and still manufactures boards to this day.
Shane Chen was born in Beijing, where he grew up. The inventor of the modern hoverboard emigrated to the United States in the 1980s, where he put his degree in agricultural meteorology to a number of good uses at a variety of companies.
Hoverboard inventor Shane Chen kept busy creating new types of personal transportation in the years before inventing the first working board. He created a watercraft called the AquaSkipper, a three-wheeled scooter, and a self-balancing electric unicycle. It was this latter invention and its reliance on gyroscopic control, one of the key components of how hoverboards work, that led to the hoverboard design we know and love today.
Shane Chen originally intended for his hoverboard to primarily be used indoors. It wasn’t long, however, before he realized that his invention wasn’t exactly suited to be used indoors, thanks to the issue of confined space. This realization made him include larger wheels, to allow for riding across different terrain types. Things to keep in mind if you’re interested in learning how to make your own hoverboard. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hoverboard inventor Shane Chen has insisted that he has made little to no money from his invention. Though he patented his original design, thousands of companies slightly tweaked his design to create their own hoverboard models, with none of their proceeds going to Chen. “I visited some of the knockoff factories. They actually thanked me for having the imagination to invent it. They understand they’ve infringed my patent but they know there’s nothing I can do,” he said.
Shane Chen invented the first working hoverboard prototype in 2013.