Tech Companies Want To Make Walking Obsolete

4 minute read

If you are of the mind that traditional bicycles, cars, buses, trains, planes and feet are simply not sufficient for getting around, then you are in abundant company.

Tech firms around the world are coming up with novel ways to get from A to B that usually aim to minimize the traveler’s effort, increase their mobility and maximize fun-having. Some of these gizmos are already catching on in places like San Francisco, where counting up the modes of transportation you might see on your daily commute can easily exceed the fingers on one’s hands.

“It’s just a matter of picking the one that suits your needs best,” says Adam Moon, who runs logistics for Brazil-based Movpak, a startup that’s launching a crowdfunding campaign on May 10 for its new spin on the electric skateboard. Take a gander at some of the new ways to get around.

The Electric Skateboard

This electric skateboard—made by a startup called Boosted—is one of several out there, running riders from about $999 to $1,499. The company has touted it as a mode of transport that you can easily carry around, charge via a wall outlet and ride for a good five miles, blowing through traffic and zipping up hills. That is, if you are the type of person who can balance on a skateboard. See also: Onewheel and ZBoard.

The Electric Bike

There are tons of electric bikes out there. (Just ask the Europeans.) But the options have gotten smarter (and more expensive) than ever. Swiss company Stromer‘s newest model costs about $10,000, has a range of about 100 miles per charge and reaches speeds just above 25 m.p.h. New e-bikes can fold into carry-ables and come with everything from super-bright headlights to GPS-enabled theft deterrent systems.

Light Sport Aircraft

Companies like ICON, pictured above, want to sell people on a new kind of adventure sport, one that involves their amphibious flying machines! You’ll need two things to get started: an amateur pilot’s license and about $189,000.


The Hybrid Foldaway

Movpak‘s gizmo can be worn as a regular backpack until one has a need for speed (of up to 20 m.p.h.). With a pull, out slips the smaller-than-typical skateboard, which the rider can mount and control with a little remote. Meanwhile, the backpack can wirelessly charge the rider’s smartphone and give directions through a speaker synced with Siri or Google Now.

The Jet-Powered Hoverboard

You may have seen the flying machines that propel people above and through water while attached to a watercraft. But Zapata Racing, which makes those machines, debuted one a few months ago that flies untethered, powered by four 250-horsepower engines. It’s borderline-unreal and also not going to market anytime soon. “If you want to try it, you must have seven lives, like the cat,” creator Franky Zapata told The Verge.

The Transforming Wheel

If you already have one of those old-fashioned bikes, you can buy a wheel from a company like GeoOrbital (which is in the midst of a successful Kickstarter campaign) to turn it into an electric bike “in 60 seconds.” Swap out the old front wheel for a 21st-century one one, complete with a battery and motor, and you can be zipped around at speeds of about 20 m.p.h.

The Hoverboard

If you were alive last Christmas season, you’re likely familiar with the hoverboards that are all the rage among teenagers and acrobats who dance to Justin Bieber songs. There is variety among brands. For example, some have one wheel and some have two, like this one from Swagway. And while some of these Segway-like scooters have exploded into flames, some have not.

Unicycle Scooters

Some of the one-wheeled options in the self-balancing scooter family, like this one from F-wheel, come with handle bars. Others, for the more advanced self-balancers, look more like a true space-age unicycle, which may set you back $500 or more.

The Stand-Up Electric Scooter

If the notion of riding around on a unicycle board gives you horrible daydreams of face-planting and teeth replacement, there are more stabilized options. Take, for example, the three-wheeled CycleBoard, which raised about $150,000 on Kickstarter in April. And yes, there is also a four-wheeled option for golfers, co-created by big wave surfer Laird Hamilton. The GolfBoard tagline sums up all this business pretty well: “Surf the earth.”

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