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September 27, 2017

Whether you’re new to the hobby or have been skateboarding for decades, it’s tradition to educate yourself and honor the legacy of legendary skateboarders and the moves they developed, as well as the history of skateboarding itself.

But when it comes to emerging trends and technology so pervasive in every hobby, what does the future of skateboarding look like?

Augmented Reality and Skateboarding

Pokemon GO proved that augmented reality (AR) games have massive potential. Though plagued with some initial issues (mainly due to popularity), the Pokemon game captured new and nostalgic fans alike, harnessing the attention of kids and Gen Xers.

Kind of like skateboarding does.

In my local park, several groups used skateboards to get around quickly, going from pokestop to pokestop. They still got some exercise, practice some moves, and completed game objectives. While it’s not safe to skate and have your attention focused on something else, skateboarding and AR could be a pretty decent combination.

Imagine a screen projected in front of you, Stark Technologies style. You could tighten up your turns and aim for virtual goals using AR. You could even have your own skateboarding program.

However, technology isn’t quite there yet, and neither is the market. There have been some promising contenders, though.

Sk8trakr: An augmented reality experience for skaters | Cloud9Griptape.com

Back to the Future

Back in the ‘80s, Michael J. Fox portrayed Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” movies. I remember being a kid watching those movies.

Like every other kid, I wanted a hoverboard.

Now that it is the future, where the hell are our hoverboards? I’ve been to a few marketing conventions with people using hoverboards as a gimmick to get people to their booths. Most of these people promptly fell off of the hoverboards. This leads me to believe that while there are current innovations happening, the hoverboard design is not perfected. There’s probably a reason you don’t see pro skaters flying around on hoverboards.

If Segways can’t really take off, is it really a surprise that hoverboards don’t stand a chance? Still, the ‘80s kid in me is severely disappointed in the reality of our situation.

Other Technology

Tech impacts skateboarding not simply inexpensive upgrades, but in how skateboarding culture is shared. Snaps, clips, and videos can go viral, and it’s become a staple of learning moves and watching how styles evolve.

Financial Accessibility of Skateboarding

Skateboarding is a financially accessible hobby, meaning most people can start out with their first board at any age. Young or old, you just need a board, a helmet, a place to skate, and some quality grip tape to get started. Compared to sports like football or collectible hobbies like Magic: the Gathering, skateboarding is something most people can try.

Retro For the Young

Now that all the ‘90s stuff is in fashion again, I’m trying to figure out if I should simply feel old or just…wear it. There are tons of memes out there about kids not knowing how to play cassette tapes and not understanding the need for ye olde AOL discs. Beyond these smaller staples of culture, though, young skaters understand how to use the internet as a digital archive.

Ride writer Sean Mortimer describes the process for two young skateboarders:

“They love the physical act of skateboarding, but they allow it to exist on its own plane while they dig deep into the culture of it. So it doesn't matter if they find inspiration in a video part from nearly 30 years ago in which Jessee is in jail (a favorite), the Dogtown documentary and feature film, or Hockey's unpolished, '90s-inspired clips. They watch all of these videos on the same platform, on which nothing is outdated.”

This points to a fantastic upcoming skater culture with new ideas firmly incorporating the legacy of skateboarding. Whether kids incorporate tech and hoverboards or kick it old school, it’s safe to say that they appreciate the influences.

What trends have you noticed in skateboarding subculture? Is it changing for the better? Let us know in the comments.