Too far to walk, too close to drive. That's the theme of the technology we're showcasing on this week's episode of The Future Is Now. First off, full disclosure. When I first heard the idea, I thought to myself, "Isn't that what bicycles and scooters are for? Or feet?" But after seeing the cool, modern motorized technology we found, I hope you'll agree that it's time to ditch the bicycle, car keys and never-ending search for parking spots in favor of one of these three high-tech electric people movers.
Let's start with the ZBoard — a weight-sensing electric skateboard. Now, this isn't the first attempt at putting a battery-powered motor on a skateboard, but modern, lightweight battery technology has come a long way in recent years. That tech allows the ZBoard to hit 17 mph in the Pro version on a charge that lasts 5 hours and will take you 10 miles. Pressure-sensitive footpads sense directional lean to power you forward or to apply the brakes.
The ZBoard is certainly simple to use. I'll be honest - the only shredding I've ever done is in the kitchen. With lettuce. For my signature gourmet burgers. But I digress. My point is, with the ZBoard, you don't have to be a skateboarding superstar to ride. Simply hop on, lean and go. You'll bechanneling your inner Tony Hawk in no time. No more one-legged pushing off. Just think of all the wear and tear that'll save on your skate shoes.
[Make sure to vote for your favorite 'people mover' in weekly TFIN poll, and check out our TFIN bonus content to learn more about some of the featured products!]
Next up — spnKiX. Spin — as in the wheels on these things spin. And KiX — as in "kicks," or what the cool kids CALL shoes. The spnKiX are small enough to toss into a backpack. And at 10 mph, fast enough to get you to your destination in a timely fashion. No question, there's a coolness factor at work here, but there's also a real learning curve with the spnKiX. It takes time to master the balance required to glide mere inches off the ground. And the wheels and battery pack are heavy — so heavy you may soon be longing for the low-tech simplicity of walking. You remember — that activity where you simply put one foot in front of the other?
Think Segways are for sissies? The Solowheel might be more your style. Part motorized scooter, part unicycle, AND all fun. It ups the skill quotient considerably from a Segway, but operates in much the same way. Lean forward to go. Back to stop. Simple. The hard part is mastering the balance required to zip around town at 10 mph for 15-20 miles or so on a single charge. But practice makes perfect. It only took me half an hour to figure the Solowheel out. Once I did, it was hard to pry me off. It requires just enough skill and ability to keep you paying attention — and having fun. And once you've got that whole balance thing down, you'll crave the wind in your hair and the bugs in your teeth for hours.
Gas ain't cheap. And walking is sooo 2011. Hopefully with today's technology and these three new people movers, you'll be hitting those places too far to walk and too close to drive in no time. To learn a bit more about some of the products featured, check out our bonus content:
Video produced by Jennie Josephson, Will Lerner and Charity Elder. Production by Tommy Morquecho, Mario Framingheddu, James Kelly and Alex McCourt. Post-production by Nolan Cooper, Katie Best, Ben Turner and John Adams. Graphics by Todd Tanner for Yahoo! Studios.