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We're a little crazy, about science!

Dude, wheres my Hover Car? Oh wait…

Hoverboard

Photo from Back to the Future

We all (of a certain age) remember the Jetsons, a futuristic family with hi-tech gadgets and gizmos. However, nothing said, “the future is here” quite like things hovering. Even in the movie Back to the future, they have hover boards and flying cars. Unfortunately we don’t, which is a shame because according to the 1950’s we are the future, we should have hover-cars and hover boards… well the wait is over. Yep, introducing the first real hover board!

At first, I simply could not believe it; I mean the last hover board video turned out to be a prank. Therefore, the timing was a little awkward for a real hover board to come about. Nevertheless, if the videos are any indication this is the real deal. Now, not to be a naysayer, but from the video and other reports the technology is loud, the battery only lasts a few minutes, and it’s hard to control, but at the least it is proof of concept.

Greg and Jill Henderson are behind this new invention. One that uses a magnetic field to generate lift, which is easier, said than done. As anyone who has played around with magnets before might know, they do not like to sit still. Interestingly enough they have turned to crowdfunding to put the finishing touches on their California-based Hendo Hover board.

They said that “perfecting it will take a little more time and resources,” and their target date is a relatively soon October 2015. Their plan is to procure parts from a number of overseas suppliers, with the final assembly in Los Gatos, California. The idea is to make it (relatively) cheap and mass producible, they also are trying to appeal to the make community for ideas to use this new technology (not a bad idea if I do say so myself!)

It has been described as “a self-powered, levitating platform with enough power to lift a fully grown adult.” The technology behind the hover board lies in its four disc-shaped hover engines. These create a special magnetic field that pushes against itself, generating the lift that levitates the board off the ground. There is work ahead however; the surface now needs to be a non-ferromagnetic conductor.

“Right now we use commonly available metals in a simple sheet, but we are working on new compounds and new configurations to maximize our technology and minimize costs,” the team said on the campaign page.

The campaign’s hover board is a means for the company to draw attention to a larger development, the device’s technology, and the developer kit option could open up opportunities to leverage this technology in important ways.

“We are putting hover technology in YOUR hands,” they said.

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The New York Times said the Henderson’s would like to see new industries based on this science. Greg Henderson, CEO of the company, Arx Pax, said the underlying technology is very scalable.

“The Hendo hover board is just the first step,” he said. “It’s a proof of concept for demonstrating a technology that everyone can understand.”

Campaign supporters who go for the option of a developer kit will find inside the box the hover engine, to use to build their own projects.

“You no longer have to be a scientist in a lab in order to build the future,” he remarked. “The wheel may finally have some competition.”

Their hover board is a “vehicle,” in a sense, for the core technology, which the Henderson’s call Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA). As the campaign page explained, “The Hendo Hover board is a first-step product,” with a vision toward broader MFA implementations. “It enables a new generation of lift and motion technology that will change the way we view transportation. Additional applications for MFA technology are virtually limitless – from business, to industry, to healthcare, and beyond.”

The team would like to see an ecosystem of technologies using MFA. “Hovering modes of transportation are now possible and practical. Lifting a wide range of loads – whether it’s a person riding a hover board (what we were all expecting) or a building riding out an earthquake (what we never imagined could be possible) – is all within reach.”

Another vision is to see a place for using the hover board. As mentioned before, their current technology requires special types of surfaces, “we need a hover-park to go with our boards, and we have been busy designing a park befitting the awesomeness of our technology.” Arx Pax developed the hover technology used in the Hendo Hover board and Whitebox Developer Kit.

While it is not as pink and stylish as the Back to the Future version, it is still awesome. But, I must admit, I have tempered expectations about the technology in its current form. I mean, you need a specially designed skate rink to enjoy it, hardly Back to the Future worthy.

However, it is still exciting to think that it is possible, after all the modern automobile had to start somewhere. While this is certainly not going to kick off the hover revolution, much like the model T did for the automobile, the technology will undoubtedly progress to a form (and function) that would be more suitable for vehicles and other uses.

The two (rather large) hurdles to jump will be applying this sort of technology to any –or at least most– surfaces, a trick that I hope to see someone accomplish somehow. The other is going to be even more obvious, the battery. Current battery technologies are useless for this kind of application; I mean I can barely get a day or two use out of my smart phone. That will probably be the easier hurdle to jump out of the two (by far), but a hurdle nevertheless.

The best way to look at it (I think) is like this, we “cavemen” just invented a new wheel, it might be awhile before we actually put it to use the way we want it to be used. While there are people who suggest we just relax, this is exciting, and I do not see any good reason why we would not want to celebrate.

Then again, I am sure the wheel did not get too much fanfare when it was first invented either.

Want more? You can see the kickstarter video below, and donate to the project here. For $10,000, you too can even own one!

And here is one that you can hear the board in action (note the loud whining noise in the background)

Sources
Hendo Hover (2014). Hendo Hoverboards – World’s first REAL hoverboard Kickstarter Other: Here

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