Tech of the Week: riding around on a ratchety, handleless Segway … thing

The future of personalised transport is here (maybe). Essentially a cross between a motorised skateboard and a handleless Segway, these two-wheeled wonders will let you glide effortlessly through the streets as if you were standing on a cloud.

The latest in personal transportation, these “smart” self-balancing electric scooters are so cool almost everyone in the office that’s seen it, wants it. From ratchet low-end knock-offs coming from China to the premium high-end models shown at this year’s CES, they’re certainly eyebrow rising for passers-by.

The IO Hawk, which was released earlier this year at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is essentially a platform sandwiched between two electric motorised wheels. With a range between 16 to 20km and supporting up to 127kg’s in weight, the device can happily chug you up and down Queen Street at a speed of about 10km/h.

That’s just slightly faster than your average jogger.

Powered by battery and using very fine pressure-sensing technology to propel you forwards, backwards, and even spin you on the spot, the device is so responsive people have likened it to telepathy.

According to a company spokesperson that talked to Mashable, “it’s all in the toes.”

Unfortunately, the device can only handle bumps and cracks up to ½ inch (meaning you may have to attempt an ollie to get over curbs). With a very compact footprint (just a bit wider than average shoulder-width), and extremely quiet operation, the blinking safety lights at the back of the platform is certainly a good idea. 

The IO Hawk will fully charge in three hours, which means it’s a great device for commuters who live in or around city central.

Of course, a device such as this totally needs some celebrity endorsement, and who would be better than The Biebs, who reportedly owns six of the two-wheelers. At about US$1800 per piece, that’s a lot of endorsement.


A video posted by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Interestingly, there’s also a number of cheaper options that have sprung up on Amazon and Ebay, with most only costing a fraction of the price. The knock-offs look just about the same, with some saying being just as good in performance.

The original IO Hawk comes in five different colours, ships around the world (at buyer’s cost), and can handle dust and light splashes of waters. That means no puddles, sadly.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).