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Shane Chen : The Man who invented the Hoverboard

59-year-old inventor Shane Chen has been busy over recent years designing transportation products ranging from electric skateboards to unicycles.

Shane Chen

Shane Chen in his office - Image credits:Wikipedia.org

He grew up in China and went to the US in 1986. Now based in Washington, before setting up his state of the art business, he worked as a scientific-instruments designer until 2011.Then he designed the Hovertrax.

The Hovertrax began a brand-new career for him in invention, especially of his own versions of the "hoverboard" which are now even being commercialized by other companies offering copycat and improved balance boards.

The original Hovertrax

Millions of hoverboards have literally been flying off shelves in the last couple of years with celebrities posting videos of themselves riding them.

Shane Chen began by inventing his hoverboard for indoor use with wheels too small for outside. He thought that by having two distinct foot platforms, people would be able to stand safely on a powered board, using their feet to achieve balance.

He created the larger wheeled Solowheel in 2010, and then went on to design the Hovertrax which was made in 2013. That is when others started to copy the Hovertrax.

Subsequently, a further seven inventions by Shane Chen have been copied.

He has previously invented the Aquaskipper, which is a powered watercraft:

Shane Chen then invented the Orbitwheels, skates with wheels where your feet are placed; Fizz Saver and Leantisserie which are useful kitchen gadgets; Alkacharger which is a battery charger.

And then the copycats came in ...

The Hovertrax self-balancing scooter has inspired almost 1,000 factories in China to make 22,000 of their own versions every day.

The copies were often made under 230W, with a weak battery. This causes problems as it needs enough power to prevent you from falling off.

Many chinese copies used to catch fire because they are not correctly wired with their low-cost batteries. (Nowadays most hoverboards sold in the US go through extensive certifications to make sure that they are safe to ride)

Shane Chen believes that it is not possible to sell Hoverboards for under $300 that are safe and he now actually feels proud. “Even as a copy, it's still my invention”.

Even though some people say that he didn't invent the hoverboard. He was the first inventor to file the patent.

He actually holds 50 patents and he has been able to develop 11 of them into production.

Shane Chen filed the patent for Hovertrax (US 8738278 B2) in February 11, 2013 which is two years before other companies such as Chic unveiled their rival products such as the S1.

​Later on, Mr Chen redesigned the Hovertrax, called it the 2.0. Here is how it looks:

Woman on a bench with a yellow hoverboard

Mr Chen's working process

He states that he can work on up to six projects at the same time. He points out that all of the low-cost factories that produce commercially will only need ‘one month to make a product, while I need years’.

As an inventor that make all the difference between the quality and time needed to create a copy or the original invention itself.

There is no real bitterness felt by Chen when talking about copycat production of his inventions.

Chen has not however given up on inventing or on the Hovertrax. What does now hold interest for him is his big new invention.

His latest invention -  The Lunicycle

The Lunicycle is coming soon. Chen says that as it takes a long time for many people to learn to ride a unicycle, he saw a need to make this easier.

By using the Lunicycle, he says that it takes just half an hour to learn how to ride and it is the invention that he is most proud of.

This is because with the Hovertrax he used already existing technology to create his invention such as electronic circuits.

However, the Lunicycle could have been invented 100 years ago. Here is a video or Shane Chen showing off the Lunicycle:

His dream invention

Chen wants to create a form of transportation that can fly people around without the use of wings. Ten years ago, he is credited with creating a human-powered aeroplane which had wings.

To fly it, you have to utilise leg power to push making the wings move up and down. Students at Toronto University actually made it fly for a mile at above five feet, but reported that it was somewhat impractical and slightly dangerous for the general public to buy.

He is not certain that it is possible to create the world famous hoverboard that is coveted from the Back to the Future movies.

Mr. Chen suggests that a hoverboard like this would be a totally different concept to make as you need to lift it entirely off the ground.

He does not believe that we have all of the necessary physics knowledge just yet. If he could design it, he believes that no one would need to drive a car anymore.

Leave a Comment:

Britt M. says May 21, 2017

Well I am impressed! He is a very smart man.

I actually never seen the round one like that but upon googling and looking on Youtube, I can see they are almost just as popular.

I find the single circle more appealing for adults than children though. Either way, this was a very cool invention and even if he got ripped off, he should be proud.

KIA love says December 19, 2017

love all the information

Sharla Schwartz says March 7, 2019

Me and my kids came up with the idea to have a hoverboard with a vacuum underneath and on the sides so that when ur riding it you can clean the floor with it. Ot would make vacuuming fun!!!

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