• Nov 26, 2012
Electric mobility isn't just about electric cars. Bikes, trains and busses are getting the battery and motor combo. But the latest addition to electrified transportation comes from Hermosa Beach, California in the form of an electrified skateboard. Intuitive Motion Inc. has a unique story that reflects a changing approach among inventors and innovators. ZBoard got its start as a mechanical engineering senior class project at the University of Southern California. After the first prototype, which inventors Ben Forman and Geoff Larson dubbed "Mad Max," the concept was refined over the next 3 years. Sourcing parts from U.S. suppliers was one of the team's main objectives and adding features like regenerative braking and a tow-handle came later during the development cycle.

What once started as a college engineering project became much more after receiving crowd-sourced funding via the website Kickstarter. (If you haven't yet heard of Kickstarter, it's best you check them out.) The idea is simple: create a prototype you want to show to the world, create a video demonstrating it, then post it on Kickstarter. The inventor offers incentives to would-be investors, but the returns are never shares in a company or a healthy dividend, rather products and special favors that are unique and fun.

The response to Intuitive Motion's ZBoard Kickstarter page was overwhelming. For $495, investors were able to get in on the ground floor and purchase a ZBoard. The company's goal was to raise $10,000 and begin production. With 425 backers, Intuitive Motion Inc. was able to raise over 27 times that amount during their Kickstarter campaign, with a grand total of $278,767.
INTUITIVE MOTION
The ZBoard is offered in two models: the $649 Classic and the $949 Pro. The Pro is considered a performance model because it can go up to 17 mph, with a 10 mile range. The Classic can do 15 mph with a 5 mile range. They both weigh around 30 pounds, but the Pro is a bit lighter due to a different battery type.

To use the ZBoard you shift your weight onto a foot pad near the front of the board. Acceleration is variable based on how much pressure you apply to the food pad, meaning that the more you lean, the faster you go. To stop, you simply step on the rear pad and the regenerative braking returns energy to the battery while slowing you down. Other than that, ZBoard functions just like a normal longboard.

Longboards are sleeker and have larger wheels than a skateboard, thus the ride is smoother and more controlled. The ZBoard's off-road tires and heavy-duty trucks can go over cracks and bumps in the roads, and have enough traction climb LA's famous hills.

As was the case with the ZBoard, we think that Kickstarter will help to bring more new ideas to the market by allowing future customers to get involved early in the process. If you have an idea and a prototype, you might very well have the next big thing.



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