By Simon Cohen

When it comes to visions of the future in transportation, there are two versions we just can’t get out of our heads: the flying cars from The Jetsons and the amazing hoverboard that Marty McFly rode with so much style in Back to the Future Part II. Face it: Our reality is far more mundane. But a new “personal motorized transporter,” unveiled at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January, just might make us feel like we’re living in the future.

Available in red, white and black, the IO Hawk is essentially a two-wheeled, platform-only scooter that runs on electricity and has a range of about 10 to 12 miles on a full charge. Remember when McFly MacGyvered a skateboard from a wheeled wooden crate in the original Back to the Future? Well, if he’d done the same thing to a Segway, it would look like an IO Hawk.

Just stand on the footboards, and then let your muscles do the rest.

John Soibatian, the IO Hawk’s creator, says that it was designed for people of all ages to improve and increase their personal mobility. “All ages” might be pushing it, but Soibatian is confident that anyone — up to a weight of 280 pounds — can get comfortable on the IO Hawk in three to five minutes, and become fully proficient within 20 to 30 minutes. Just stand on the footboards, and then let your muscles do the rest. Much like the Segway, the IO Hawk responds to the way your body leans, whether that’s forward, backward or to the sides.

Unlike the Segway, which has an upright, elbow-height set of handles to help with fatigue, the IO Hawk has no such allowances for those who might not have the strongest core muscles. In fact, riding it can be “strenuous” Soibatian warns, as your body gets acclimated to standing on the device. But once you relax and get used to it, the IO Hawk’s full range can be comfortably achieved, he says.

Topping out at 6 mph, riders won’t run the risk of breaking any posted speed limits, but there may be other considerations when whizzing about — like making sure you “do not collide with state laws limiting or prohibiting its use,” says Kenneth Padowitz, a criminal defense attorney in Florida. Segway laws vary by state, and each region or municipality may have its own rules. And some countries don’t allow Segway use at all. Until the laws are rewritten, there will be confusion when it comes to applying them to new technology like the IO Hawk, Padowitz says, and “confusion in the law can lead to a collision with local law enforcement.” Soibatian suggests checking with local authorities before you buy.

If you do want one, you can pre-order it for $1,800. Of course, if flying cars and hoverboards are more your thing, you might want to try Dr. Emmett Brown.

February 23, 2015

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