How Do Hoverboards Work? Hoverboard Technology Explained

September 26, 2020
Find out how hoverboards work in this detailed guide
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Sorry to break it to you, but what we call hoverboards today don’t actually “hover”. True hovering boards have been envisioned by science fiction novels and Back to the Future, and product developers are currently working on ones that really do hover, but that is still in process.

However, the best hoverboards out there today are still impressive machines with highly advanced technology. They respond to the most sensitive pressure and really do give the rider a semblance of hovering.

So how does a hoverboard work?

I’ll begin with a very simple answer, for those who familiar at all with hoverboard and what happens when you step on one. Then I’ll list the hoverboard’s parts, and finally I’ll give a more technical explanation how these parts work together in these sleek, high-tech personal transportation devices.

I hope this info comes in handy, no matter whether you are an experienced hoverboard rider, or just starting to think about buying a hoverboard!

How Hoverboards Work: The Simple Answer

Before looking at how all these parts work together to make a hoverwork work, you may be wondering what even happens when you step on a hoverboard. If you’ve never ridden one, basically the following is what should happen.

After you charge a hoverboard and turn it on, it will balance on its own. Next you step onto it with one foot, then the other. Once you are standing on it with both feel, it will continue balancing, so long as you don’t lean your body’s weight in any given direction (don’t do that!)

Next, when you press down with the front of your feet (your toes), the board will begin rolling forwards. If you press down with your heels, it will go backwards.

Since the two foot pads are attached and can pivot independently of each other, pressing forward with only the right foot will cause the board to turn in an anti-clockwise direction. Similarly, pressing down with the front of the left foot will cause the board to spin in a clockwise direction.

So to put it really simply, a hoverboard works by moving and turning based on subtle cues you give to it by weight pressure applied by your feet. But if you came here looking at a more technical explanation of the technology taking place behind the scenes, keep reading!

The Parts of a Hoverboard

Blueprint showing the inside of a hoverboard

To the more technical aspects of how a hoverboard works, we must first take a look at the parts that function together inside the device to help you perform those wonderful stunts.

After all, it’s just parts and science that make hoverboards work. Hoverboards are comprised of the following parts:

  • Steel frame with a central pivot
  • Well-built logic board (aka mother board)
  • Two infrared sensors
  • Two gyroscopes (a spinning disk)
  • Two electric motors (present in the wheels)
  • Two tilt/speed sensors (also in the wheels)
  • Power switch
  • Charging port
  • Pressure pads
  • Battery pack (to provide power to the motor)
  • Plastic shell
  • LED lights & bluetooth speaker (in some models)

The Technical Explanation

Now that you are aware of the parts that make up a hoverboard, let’s take a look at how these components work when brought together. This advanced built-in technology is constantly working in the background to help you move forward, backward, side to side and so on while riding.

When you step onto a hoverboard, two infrared lights inside the hoverboard shine onto two sensors in the wheels. The lights tell the motor not to turn on. Meanwhile, tilt sensors in the wheels help to maintain balance by relaying the angle of tilt to the logic board via the gyroscopes.

When you press forward with one or both of the feet, the infrared lights go off, letting the logic board know that it should start powering up the motors.

The wheels of the hoverboard, with are usually 6.5, 8, or 10 inches in diameter, contain the motors. When started, they provide spinning power, or torque, to the wheels.

The wheels also contain the speed and tilt sensors. These detect the revolutions per minute (rpm) of each wheel and send the data to the speed control and gyroscope boards, which are located inside the main framework, between the two wheels.

Inside of a hoverboard. Know your hoverboard parts before you purchase one!
Multiple components working together to make a hoverboard work

The tilt/speed sensors work with the gyroscope to monitor the rider’s weight distribution and movements, and translate them into real time. The gyroscope also forms the base center of gravity and relates your movements from that point. The speed controls connect with the sensors inside of the wheels in the meantime to send tilting actions to the chief logic board.

This sophisticated built-in technology enables you to slow down as you press backwards and accelerate as you put press your feet/toes forwars. So, the main team that works behind the scenes is the gyroscopes and speed/tilt sensors.

Pressure pads also play an important role in detecting the movements and helping you take the forward or backward motion. You will find a pressure pad with two switches on each side of the board – one at the front and the other one at the back. These switches are designed in a way to detect the weight distribution and move you towards the direction where the pressure is greater.

Last but not least, lithium ion batteries (often two of them) provide power to the motor. They are often located on the opposite side of the board from the logic board, to reduce overheating. You may also find that the batteries are on the opposite side from the charging port.

Which part is the main control?

The main control of the device lies in the motherboard or main logic board, where all the processing takes place. It works like a tiny computer located inside the self-balancing scooter.

The feedback received from the speed controls and gyroscope helps in identifying the turning, acceleration, and deceleration. It also recognizes the connection that exists between the sides of each pedal, wheel and their sensors. These features combine to give you a good balance and keep you upright.

The logic board helps in controlling the different user modes that can be found in a hoverboard. It helps in providing the cushioning allowed in learning mode, which helps in capping the top speed. It also aids in removing the training wheels when you make the transition from a newbie to a pro hoverboard rider.

Setting the balance

Setting the right balance is the key to riding these little self-balancing scooters, and the key factor is gravity. In a hoverboard, the combination of gyroscopes and tilt sensors come together to maintain a center of gravity based on weight distribution. The actions you take with your feet will signal the motherboard to stay balanced, speed up or slow down.

Final Thoughts on Hoverboard Technology

Hoverboards depend upon the technology of self-balancing, and they do so with the help of various parts.

I hope clarified the overall process of what happens from the moment you turn a hoverboard on to when you are racing around and event doing tricks and stunts like these ones!