Hoverboards – A Rapidly Proliferating “Memeufacturing” Phenomenon

Hoverboard pic
Image: boingboing.net

An accomplished Phoenix, Arizona, entrepreneur, focused on solar power, Charles Kirkland is the CEO of Clean Energy Systems, LLC. Charles Kirkland also has a longstanding interest in consumer technology, especially innovative products such as hoverboards, or “self-balancing, motorized, two-wheeled scooters.”

Unlike traditional consumer electronics products, ranging from the iPhone to the Segway, hoverboards are not associated with one distinct company. Rather, they seem to have originated with a U.S.-based Chinese engineer who funded a self-balancing board project through Kickstarter. The promotional video for this product, which relied on a complex system of gyroscopes and accelerometers, was likely seen by engineers in Shenzhen, China. They then worked out a far less expensive design that had motor linkages at its technological foundation.

Like e-cigs, the suddenly ubiquitous hoverboards have proliferated in a social media-driven “memeufacturing” process, without one central patentholder’s licensed (or unlicensed) design in play. At present, approximately 1,000 factories in southern China are producing hoverboards. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes and are constantly mutating in ways that make them more efficient to use and manufacture.