Paly sophomore Alyssa Takahashi rides her longboard around campus.
Next up in the media ring …weighing in at a whopping 12 pounds and measuring an astounding 45 inches long. Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please: it is the transportation of the future.
Of course, the term “transportation of the future” has been thrown around quite a bit. Take the Segway — it’s hard to believe that such an awkward-looking vehicle (a constant target for shameless mall cop jokes) was once venerated as technologically savvy enough to slowly roll us into a new era.
And yet, according to rave reviews, and the outstanding support of the public, this time is different. This time, you can zoom up hills with two brushless motors, perform an aerial kickflip and whiz past traffic, all while maintaining a 20-mph speed for up to six miles. The new Boosted Board, an electric longboard, promises all this and more.
The concept of an electric longboard is nothing new; the idea has been tried and tried again for years now, with brands such as Altered and Exkate. When you think about it, the coinage itself doesn’t even take much thought.
Yet as we have seen time and again, the genius of inventing lies in taking a great-yet-obvious idea and molding it into a more convenient, spiffy-looking, and compact form. This, people, is what makes the big bucks, and Stanford engineering students Sanjay Dastoor, Matt Tran and John Ulmen have done just this by creating the Boosted Board.
So what exactly did they do to earn such appraising reviews and support?
“John Ulmen, one of the co-founders, designed the first prototype,” Dastoor says. “He was looking for a way to get around campus and realized that the electric skateboards that were currently on the market used previous-generation motors and batteries, and he thought he could make one that was lighter and faster.”
Lighter and faster indeed. According to the Boosted Board website, snazzy new features include motors that can push you with 2.6-horsepower, regenerative braking used to recharge the battery while moving, lithium batteries which can be recharged in two hours, fueling six miles of use, and to top it all off, what makes us couch potato Americans drool with happiness: an advanced wireless controller. Really, it’s straight out of a Star Trek episode. Want more?
For all the energy-conscious out there worried about carbon footprints, don’t get your hemp panties in a twist. If the board is charged once a day, the total electricity usage equals amounts to less than $5 a year for more than 2000 miles of use.
New additions aside, inventors say the original longboard concept has not been thrown away.
“John tried as hard as possible not to mess with the great qualities of the longboard, like the flexible deck and the feel of the trucks,” Dastoor says. “So the transformation was minimal, only adding four pounds of weight and not changing the handling or feel while carving.”
And the icing on the cake? If pre-ordered on their website (boostedboards.com), it can arrive at your doorstep as early as March.
Some Palo Alto High School students, however, express concern over tarnishing originality in the re-invented longboard.
“I think the concept of it is cool, but the whole point and feel to it is ruined,” sophomore longboarder Alyssa Takahashi says. “Longboards are for days when the tide is too low, but you still want to have the free feeling of being on a wave; there are so many simple perfections ruined.”
Takahashi expresses concern over the fitness factor as well.
“I think creating an electric board would spread the laziness that already exists in our society to the longboarding community, probably making them fatter too,” she says.
Junior Kyle Fisher says he has been loyal to the longboard since he knew what the word loyal meant. However, he finds the improvements refreshing.
“I don’t think it’s ruining the originality of the longboard,” Kyle says. “I think it’s taking the concept to new levels and making it more useful.”
Nevertheless, Kyle has concerns over pricing. At $1,200, this is one expensive longboard.
“It’ll go down, or else people like me won’t be able to afford them,” Fisher says. “A huge market would be cut out.”
Coming to the rescue, of course, are the founders, who express their focus on lowering the overall price.
“We are looking to raise money so that we can scale this up and bring our manufacturing cost down so that we can make a profit,” Dastoor says.
“We have big plans for where we’re taking both our longboard design and our lightweight drivetrain technology, but I can’t talk about them yet,” he says with a smile.