Fans of the “Back to the Future” films can relax: the hoverboard is finally here. First seen in 1989’s “Back to the Future Part II” when Marty McFly travels into the future, the hoverboard has finally made its real-world debut. Just like the movies predicted, it will be available by 2015.
There is, however, one major difference between the floating skateboard seen in the movies and the real-world device demonstrated by its maker Hendo: while Marty McFly’s board floated effortlessly over any kind of surface, the real hoverboard requires a non-ferromagnetic conducting surface to hover. Although Hendo said on its Kickstarter page that it hoped the device would one day be able to float above any surface, for the moment hoverboard rides will have to be limited to special “hoverboard parks.”
Instead, the hoverboard, and the $250,000 Kickstarter campaign Hendo launched to fund its commercialization, is intended primarily as a proof-of-concept for other uses of magnetic technologies. “The hoverboard is just the first step,” Greg Henderson, who co-founded Hendo along with his wife, Jill, said in the company’s Kickstarter video. The device is intended primarily as an eye-catching way of demonstrating Hendo's hover-technology in a way that people can easily understand.
In fact, the company's technology could eventually be deployed to develop significantly larger hover vehicles. “Imagine a vehicle with all the freedom of a , and all the efficiency of a high-speed train,” Jill Henderson said in the video. “The underlying technology is totally scalable,” Greg added. “We can make it really small, or really big.”
Alongside the hoverboard, Hendo is using the Kickstarter campaign to produce a developer’s kit for supporters who pledge $299 or more. The kit will include one of the company’s hover engines and a surface for it to hover over, allowing supporters to conduct experiments and develop their own applications.
Ten lucky supporters who pledge $10,000 or more will own one of the world's first 10 production hoverboards. "Smile widely as you glide past scores of envious faces. You will be presented the hoverboard at our 10/21/2015 event," according to Hendo's Kickstarter page. As of Tuesday afternoon, four of the first 10 hoverboards were already taken.
“It is designed to be explored, taken apart, and analyzed," according to the company's Kickstarter page. Hendo now has 55 days to raise the full amount of its campaign, or its supporters will not be charged for their pledges. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had already raised more than $72,000.
Magnetic Field Architecture
Hendo’s core technology, called “magnetic field architecture,” works by focusing magnetic eddy currents that are created when magnets are moved relative to a conductive surface. Normally, creating a stable static equilibrium between two magnets is impossible. Magnetic field architecture overcomes that limitation, according to Hendo.
Magnetic levitation is hardly a new technology, especially in transportation. Maglev systems have been in use in countries such as Japan, Shanghai, and South Korea for years, where high-speed trains can travel more than 350 miles per hour.
But Hendo said magnetic field architecture is a significantly cheaper technology that can allow for a much broader range of applications. “Lifting a wide range of loads -- whether it's a person riding a hoverboard or a building riding out an earthquake -- is all within reach,” the company said. Hendo is aiming to have a commercial version of the hoverboard ready by October 2015.
Chris the Pedant:
Posted: 2014-10-31 @ 8:10am PT
Didn't know Shanghai was a country ;)
Posted: 2014-10-30 @ 2:59pm PT
I came up with the idea of using magnets for everything including hover boards years ago. My pop gave me magnets before he died. He invented the seatbelt. You should put a real skateboard deck on top like a snow skate so you can do some tricks.