Electric skateboards or e-boards in short, are skateboards powered by an electric motor. These boards can accelerate and brake independently, which is the difference between them and standard skateboards.
With electric skateboards, there is no need for the rider to kick push or break with the foot. The e-board’s remote controller handles all this. However, there are electric skateboards that you can control without a remote controller. Instead, these boards use motion and weight sensors for acceleration and braking. Therefore, one can ride an electric skateboard without a remote controller.
How Are Electric Skateboards Controlled?
Electric skateboards are usually controlled using a wireless hand-held remote controller. These remotes operate in different ways. Some remotes are using:
- Thumb wheels — These control devices for electrical or mechanical equipment in the form of a wheel operated with the thumb.
- Thumb joysticks — Small levers that can be moved in several directions to control the movement of the board.
- Finger triggers — Operate by pulling a trigger for acceleration and releasing the same to slow down.
- Thumb slider controls — With these, you slide your finger across the buttons in specified directions to accelerate or brake.
These remote controls are connected to the board often via Bluetooth. Bluetooth does not require wires to transfer signals. The Bluetooth transmitter in the remote and the Bluetooth receiver in the board communicate commands allowing the skater to control the board using the remote. There are even apps that you can pair with your smartphone that can show how much battery is left on the board and the remote, miles travelled, and other metrics. Some are so nifty that they show you if other e-skaters are around.
As technology improves, we are getting better options for controlling electric skateboards. These boards use motion and weight sensors, activated by a skater. These boards detect a shift in your body weight and adjust the boards’ speed depending on the set direction.
Why Would You Want an Electric Skateboard Without a Remote?
Currently, most of the electric skateboards are remote-controlled, and the connection between the board and the remote is via Bluetooth. The technology is efficient, but it has some shortcomings. This was discovered by Richo Healey of Stripe when he was hurled from his e-board after it abruptly stopped on its own.
This board wasn’t hacked per se, but due to the excess Bluetooth noise around, the remote and boards connection was hampered. It led him wondering if the same could be replicated and thus FacePlant was born.
Together with Mike Ryan of eBay, the two developed the program that allowed a user complete control of an electric skateboard. With FacePlant, for illustrative purposes, they could stop, reverse or speed up the hijacked e-board. If a hacker can pin-point the signal of an e-board, they can easily hack and gain control of the board.
Getting an electric skateboard without a Bluetooth enabled remote control may eliminate this problem, and there would be no avenue for a hacker to intercept signals between the remote and the e-board.
Another problem that would occur with remote controlled electronic skateboards is that we may forget to charge the remote control at times and the battery dies out during the ride. It means that the connection between the board and the remote is lost and therefore, one cannot be able to use the board’s electronic function.
If you ever find yourself in either of the above situations, you will be required to know how to kick push your board. Kick pushing is essential for any skateboarder and will help when your e-board runs out of charge. It is a skill that can be used to extend the range of your board.
The art of skateboarding has always been a hands-free sport. The control of the board has always been with the rider, and it comes by balancing their weight on the moving board. A remote-controlled board partially takes away this experience. The remote control would have to be held in your hand at all times. If you wanted to perform tricks that require use of your arms, then you would be unable to successfully perform them if you have to worry about damaging or using the remote control.
The remote controls are also a hustle to keep track of — They have to be charged to work, and at times the charging system on the remote is different from the board’s, and this introduces extra costs and multiple cables. Other issues with charging that might arise could be the need to replace the charging cables or even losing the wires altogether.
With the remote-controlled e-boards, you have to wait for them to sync with the board — Aside from the hacking as stated previously, this might be an issue, especially if the connection is shaky, you might not be able to move or stop the board. This could be potentially dangerous for the rider and those around.
Another thing with remote controllers is that they can easily get lost due to their size. If it gets lost, one might need to start thinking of getting another one as the e-board will be pretty non-functional without one.
Remote-less electric skateboards
The Starkboard is as futuristic as the Marvel superhero. The Berlin start-up created this electric skateboard that one can control by shifting one’s weight to move it in either direction. To propel, this board uses two hub motors and an AI-powered smart braking system that responds to human movement. This is courtesy of a gyroscope sensor, weight sensor and motion sensor that detects changes in the rider’s body position and adjust the movement of the board accordingly.
Leaning forward accelerates the board while leaning back initiates braking until the board comes to a controlled stop. The Stark Board is also said to be able to climb up a 15% grade incline. Other nifty features on the board include: an IP62 rating making it dust and splash-proof, built-in LED lights for safe riding in the dark, and replaceable batteries meaning you can carry an extra one just in case you are going on a ride longer than the batteries’ capacity.
The board is said to reach speeds of up to 19 mi (32 km/h) and has a range of 12 mi (20 km). There is also a smart braking system in place that halts the board immediately the rider gets off. The board might need some getting used to, especially adapting to the weight sensors and where to place your feet accurately. The Stark Board also pairs with your phone through an inbuilt app that lets you recalibrate the board, among other things.
The ZBoard have a patented footpad-based control scheme that is controlled by merely leaning forward and backwards to a stop. There are two models: the ZBoard 2 Blue and the ZBoard 2 Pearl. The latter is a more premium model selling for $1,499 and the former for $1,299. The ZBoard 2 Blue has a range of 16 miles (26 km) and a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). It weighs 17 lbs (7.7 kg). The premium model has better range offering up to 24 miles (39 km), has a similar high speed and weighs 2 pounds (0.9 kg) more than the ZBoard 2 Blue.
Both ZBoards are powered by lithium-ion batteries, have integrated headlights and taillights, and use large soft urethane wheels that can withstand any terrain you ride on. All ZBoards are designed and built in California, USA. The website also shows a history of the board, which makes it quite refreshing to see how designers and engineers have come a long way to build this cool e-board.
There are electric boards that you can ride without remote controllers — such boards use motion sensors. Some of the advantages to using motion sensors: skating feels more natural, your hands are free as there is no remote to handle, and the risks associated with Bluetooth controlled remotes are eliminated. We listed a few options — do your research and pick out the best one suited for your needs.
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