In the world of Kickstarter and crowdfunding, ideas are a dime a dozen.
The interesting side-effect of this, is that new, original ideas are out in the open, and one can gauge what interest they generate in a very concrete manner. In fact, one can even put a price on that interest.
Many thousands of miles away, in the land of low-cost manufacturing, Chinese workers can peruse crowdfunding sites and find out if they can beat the inventors to the market with cheaper alternatives, which, considering the cost of labor there, are still gonna bring in massive profit margins.
That’s how one of the hottest gadgets of 2015 was born: the hoverboard.
It doesn’t really hover, of course, but its two motorized wheels allow the user to experience the feeling of “hovering” above the ground. That seems to be the name that hit a chord with the public, even though Smart Balance Wheel—another popular one—is probably slightly more accurate.
All it took was a couple celebrities sporting them on their instagram accounts, and a new craze was born.
Virtually thousands of factories in China saw the potential, and phone, cameras, and speaker manufacturers were converted to hoverboard manufacturers literally overnight.
This new type of production has been aptly dubbed “memefacturing.”
We can expect for this phenomenon to only increase in the future, and who knows what wonderful new gadgets are going to arrive stateside before their inventor was ever able to even get a prototype out the door.
Indeed, quality in these Chinese boards has been lacking—EU and US certifications for batteries and motors be damned—and some people experienced fires caused by their hoverboards overcharging.
Thankfully, new sites have spawned to direct customers to the trustworthy vendors, offering Hoverboard Reviews. The best one I’ve found, BestElectricHoverboard.com, is really well put together and has tons of really neat info (my favorite being the technical post about how hoverboards work).
My guess is we’re probably going to see a TON of hoverboards under the tree this Christmas.