Hovertrax works like a pared-down Segway
By C.C. Weiss
May 6, 2013
Inventist, the creative mind behind such contraptions as the Solowheel and Hydroglider, is back with something it calls the Hovertrax. Unfortunately not the Marty McFly-like personal hover vessel the name implies, Hovertrax is more akin to a smaller, lighter Segway-like personal transporter. The small, hands-free device is designed to be both easy to carry and easy to use.
Unlike the big, bulky chassis used by the Segway and other similar personal EVs, the Hovertrax is a small, 9-pound (4-kg) foot pod that can be stowed in a backpack. A sort of alternative to the Solowheel, the Hovertrax was designed to be a simpler vessel that can provide "immediate enjoyment for all ages."
Each of the two wheels is equipped with its own electric motor, gyro sensor and accelerometer. The motors are controlled via foot movements – press the toes of both feet gently down to move forwards or both heels down to move backwards. By pressing with one foot, you can turn and spin.
It sounds super-simple, but we're guessing there's a bit of a learning curve in developing skill at balancing and maneuvering with grace. The auto-balancing characteristic of the vehicle should help the rider stay balanced, and he or she can always step off onto stable ground if things go awry.
The Hovertrax can travel up to 5 miles (8 km) and/or 30 minutes on a charge, reaching speeds of up to 5 mph. It only takes about an hour to charge the lithium-ion battery from a standard wall outlet.
Inventist is currently looking to raise Hovertrax development funds on Kickstarter. It will allocate that money toward purchasing machines, molds and product parts, as well as toward product testing. A bid of US$695 is the minimum required for pre-ordering an actual Hovertrax. Lesser bids will buy you some of Inventist's cheaper gear, such as a pair of Orbitwheels.
The Hovertrax has a pretty limited appeal. Inventist confirmed that it's best for riding on flat, smooth ground, such as paved trails at the park. It said that the device can handle an incline of about 15 percent, but we're guessing that going down a steep, sustained hill wouldn't be much fun. It's more of a novelty than a legitimate transportation device, and it's not really fast enough to be all that exciting. Inventist does say you can use it indoors, so it could be useful for trailing your spouse at the mall or covering the floor of a large warehouse. Overall, we think we'll save our $700 and get exercise by using something more traditional like a bike or skateboard.
You can see it in use in the following pitch video.