“Hoverboys run L.A.!”
These are the words my friend Chris shouted as he glided around the living room on a Hovertrax, a self-balancing device that looks like the bastard child of a Segway and skateboard. With countless celebrity endorsements, “hoverboards” seem to be everywhere these days, yet despite their popularity, their origin is unknown to most consumers.
Where did these hoverboards come from?
David Pierce at Wired magazine made a valiant attempt to get to the bottom of the hoverboard mystery back in June. In the article, David comes to the conclusion that most boards on the market are knockoffs of Chic Smart S1, which appeared in August of 2014, donning blue L.E.D.s and the letters “IO.” Chic brought the product to the Canton Fair, a semi-annual trade show in China, where the hoverboard devices were overwhelmingly popular and sold out quickly. It did not take long for other companies to reverse engineer and rebrand the products, and within the next few months, boards could be found on Alibaba for wholesale distribution.
If you hit your favorite social media platform, chances are you’ll see some rendition of the Chic Smart S1. PhunkeeDuck and IO Hawk are arguably the biggest players in the American hoverboard industry currently, and as David Pierce astutely notes, “Chic’s logo—the horizontal line on top of an oval that just so happens to look like “IO” when rotated 90 degrees—is plastered all over most versions of the board.” Continue reading