Swagway, one of the most recognizable names in the combustible hoverboard market, is back.
The company told Mashable that its new rolling balance board, the SWAGTRON (they use all-caps for the trademark, but we’ll lowercase from here on out) is coming to America.
Getting these devices back on the market in the U.S. would be quite a feat. They were deemed unsafe by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in February and then pulled from the market by virtually every retailer (tourist traps in lower Manhattan excepted).
At the time, the CPSC said “self-balancing scooters that do not meet the safety standards referenced above to be defective, and that they may present a substantial product hazard.”
One of the chief concerns was that the batteries and chargers did not meet Underwriter Laboratory standards. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any standards for these boards that exploded onto the market in late 2015.
Swagway always contended that its boards met all the guidelines, such as they were. The company did appear to have UL certification for its chargers, but the new regulations required similar certification for the hoverboards themselves.
When I met with Swaway’s elusive CEO Johnny Zhu in January, he showed me the new Swagtron, which had a host of new features designed to improve safety.
Now that product is coming to market in two models: the $399 T1 and the $499 T3. Both have, according to Swagway, UL2272 certification. Mashable has contacted the UL for confirmation.
We do know that the UL has certified at least one hoverboard. On May 10 it gave a UL2272 certification to Segway’s Ninebot. The Xiaomi subsidiary showed off its own self-balancing robot at CES 2016. To make things a little more confusing, the original Segway (a company launched by inventor Dean Kamen more than a dozen years ago) sued a bunch of hoverboard manufacturers (including Ninebot) over patent infringement. Swagway was not named in the suit.
A spokesperson for the UL confirmed to Mashable that they have certified some manufacturers and they provided us with a link and code to check for Swagway. The company were not listed, but could also be using a broader Chinese manufacturer name (I’ve asked Swagway to look into this.)
The UL recommends looking for their holographic sticker on products to confirm the certification.
If the new Swagtron does have UL certification, then it should be cleared to ship into the U.S. If and when that happens, we’ll see a redesigned and somewhat different self-balancing scooter.
Swagway switched out the motors and gear stabilization system, which they claim gives it better downhill traction and overall speed control.
The Swagtron will also have new battery indicator lights, and, according to Swagway, an “incombustible shell” and two different ride modes: Learning and Standard.
The biggest change, though, will be the claimed “battery shield,” an air-tight aluminum chamber for the battery. When Zhu described the chamber to me in January, he said, “Lithium-ion battery is considered a dangerous product. It holds a lot of air. The aluminum chamber can contain any issue,”
That will be paired with a new Smart Battery Management System to protect against over-charging and short circuits.
The new T3 will be more of a pro-model, allowing the rider to turn off the Swagtron’s built in speed restrictions.
Whatever model you buy, you’ll want to wear a helmet.
Swagway plans to start selling the Swagtron on its website on May 31 and promises it will eventually come to Modell’s Sporting Goods and other retailers.
All this depends on whether or not Swagway has satisfied the CPSC’s demands. We probably won’t know that until the first units ship from China and if they actually make it from the piers into American consumers’ homes.