Beijing-based Xiaomi wants to do more than make decent Android smartphones — it also wants to find a niche in the future of potentially-illegal travel.
The Xiaomi Ninebot mini is a direct result of the company’s acquisition of Segway in April, but is the first personal mobility gadget to be released by the company. It’s essentially a cut-down, redesigned self-balancing transport, which features a steering pole designed to rest between the legs. To steer users lean in the intended direction of travel, using the pole to help judge the angle. The name of this technology? “Leansteer”. Say what you see, Xiaomi.
Pole aside, however, the Ninebot mini isn’t too dissimilar from the ‘hoverboards’ currently taking the viral advertising charts by storm. With two rugged wheels, a top speed of about 16 kilometres per hour and a range of 22 kilometres, it roughly matches the specs of the Airwheel Airboard which was the coolest thing in WIRED’s office a couple of months ago.
Xiaomi is pricing the Ninebot mini at RMB 1999 ($316, £204) which is comfortably below the cost in the UK of most hoverboards and personal transports.
The Ninebot mini weighs 12.8 kilograms, Xiaomi said, and has enough torque to make it up a slope of around 15 degrees. The company said it is waterproof to IP54, which should keep it working in the rain, and can support up to 85kg. The mini also interacts with an app designed to keep it safe — when ‘locked’ via the app, the scooter will set off an alarm when moved and will notify the owner via the app.
Ninebot (and Xiaomi’s) apparent intentions to make electric cars and smart bikes means that this is probably just the first personal transport we’ll see from the company. What isn’t clear is whether the mini is street legal in the UK, after it was confirmed recently that the aforementioned hover boards fall foul of some very old school legislation on these shores.