The self-balancing Oxboard works like a Segway but is less bulky and needs less room to move.
It’s springtime in Chicago, and one sure sign is the bizarre lines of helmeted tourists teetering on Segways on the biking paths along Lake Shore Drive. When I am stopped at a light and see a group of Segwayers crossing the road, I always think to myself “Those things never really caught on.”
A Dutch company has created a mode of transportation that borrows the technology of Segway and the cool of the skateboard culture.
The Oxboard houses gyroscopes that help a rider maintain equilibrium as they subtly shift their body to guide the two-wheel electric scooter. Gone are the handlebars and the cost. While a new second-generation Segway runs between $6,000 and $8,000, the Oxboard costs around 900 U.S. dollars.
Brendan Nee, an engineer at Automatic Labs, designed an app to get people out of their cars, even though he doesn’t have one to get into. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — Brendan Nee is a walking contradiction. He’s car guru who doesn’t own one, a 21st-century geek with an 18th-century mustache who has come up with a novel bit of nagware that could help Americans get off their spreading behinds.
An engineer working on “smart car assistant” Automatic, he spends many of his weekends at hackathons and has a coder’s physique to show for it. In January, he won the Clinton Foundation Code4Health Codeathon by developing a working prototype of an app called Walkoff in just a weekend. A few months later, Nee and team rolled out a more polished version that mashes up the data Automatic pulls from cars with info gathered by a Jawbone Up fitness tracker, showing a user how much time they’re spending behind the wheel versus walking.
“Clearly, without an actual car, I’m not the ideal tester,” admits Nee. The closest he comes to owning a set of wheels is a retired public bus dubbed the PlayaPillar that he only rolls out for Burning Man.