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1 Big Way Future ‘Hoverboards’ Will Be Even Cooler

2 minute read

The self-balancing scooter, or “hoverboard,” seemingly came out of nowhere to become 2015’s most viral product. But one of the most popular brands making these two-wheeled balancing boards, IO Hawk, sees them as more than just a fad.

What’s next for IO Hawk? The company is currently working on a new hoverboard that will be able to connect to the Internet, company president John Soibatian tells TIME. The idea, he says, is to have the hoverboard serve as a wi-fi hotspot. Soibatian says that would help users reach their emergency contacts if their phone is out of juice, perhaps via a button that would send an SOS message.

In another use case, a connected scooter could send an alert to your smartphone letting you know the battery is about to run dry.

“[There are] a whole slew of things that cellular functionality can add to,” hoverboards, says Soibatian.

These ideas are still in their early stages; an Internet-connected model likely wouldn’t launch until late 2016 or early 2017 at best. Among the biggest obstacles so far: Battery life. Soibatian says that IO Hawk is looking into ways to add cellular connectivity without significantly draining the scooter’s battery.

Batteries are proving to be a headache for hoverboards in general. Some cheaper models are raising safety concerns over their batteries’ tendency to overheat and explode. In some cases, exploding hoverboards have been blamed for starting major house fires. Several major airlines, including British Airways and Delta, have banned hoverboards over fears of on-board explosions. Soibatian said in a previous interview with TIME that some of his company’s rivals use cheaper and potentially dangerous batteries to cut costs.

Back to the Future’s DeLorean Isn’t the Only Awesome Retro Car

Self-Driving Dream Car
Vintage illustration of a futuristic 3-wheeled self-driving 'dream car,' 1961. GraphicaArtis—Getty Images
The Dynasphere, an electrically-driven wheel, capable of speeds of 30mph, being tested on the beach at Weston Super Mare by Mr J. A. Purves of Taunton, who invented the machine with his son. Fox Photos/Getty Images
The George Bennie Railplane?, LNER poster, 1930s.
The George Bennie Railplane System, a suspended monorail for passengers set above the existing railway with a LNER locomotive traveling underneath. The project, funded by George Bennie, was set up at Burnbrae, near Milngavie, Scotland as an experiment. It was dismantled in 1956. WCN/McCorquodale Studio/SSPL/Getty Images
Actor Christopher Lloyd (in passenger se
Actor Christopher Lloyd (in passenger seat) arrives in a DeLorean car at Universal Studios Hollywood's "Back to the Future - The Ride" in University City, California on Aug. 7, 2007. Lloyd, who portrayed Doc Brown in the 1985 film "Back to the Future," made the appearence to mark a month-long countdown to the closure of the 14-year-old ride. Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images
Family In Flying Saucer
Vintage illustration of a futuristic American family on vacation, with the father driving his wife and two kids in a flying saucer instead of a car, 1950s.GraphicaArtis/Getty Images
Jet-Boat of Tomorrow
Jet-Boat of Tomorrow circa 1945.Buyenlarge—Getty Images
Skyport 2000
Architect James Dartford designed this model of 'Skyport 2000', a futuristic proposal for an airport in the year 2000. The model shows how aircraft could land and take off from a giant platform supported by three glass-clad pillars. These would contain lifts carrying passengers down to a hotel, offices, and parking for private planes and cars. Keystone/Getty Images
Future Car
An artist's impression of the future circa 1958 of the automobile: a vehicle that easily draws the attention of the police for exceeding the 120mph speed limit. Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images
Lighter Than Air
19th Century Illustration depicting futuristic airships and hot air balloons, entitled 'New York Sky Harbor. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Voyage to the Moon
French cartoon shows a man riding on a bicycle-like flying machine while looking through a telescope attached to the front circa 1867. Two balloons, "Velocipedes" and "Domanie," are attached at front and rear as are propeller-like wheels. Buyenlarge/Getty Images
Home Built Sport Plane
Aeronautical Engineer Burt Rutan's plane, the Long EZ sport plane on May 1982. John B. Carnett—Popular Science/Bonnier Corp./Getty Images
Ford Atmos
Ford's show 'car of the future', the Atmos. 1954. FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Highway Around The World
Vintage illustration of a globe surrounded by cars and planes driving on a highway around its circumference, 1941. GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

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