It’s finally here. As men of the 1980’s and 1990’s we’ve been waiting for this moment since Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled back to the future in order to save the past. That’s right, the Back to the Future hoverboard is finally reality.
Well, kind of. It is a first generous step in the right direction. In reality, the team at Arx Pax, lead by engineer and architect Greg Henderson, created this hoverboard as a kind of marketing ploy for their maglev technology that protects buildings from earthquakes using magnetic induction. Nonetheless, if a boy’s dream of the board lasted 25 years, why not get excited?
The board is indeed real and people can indeed hover on it. The technology itself utilizes a type of magnetic induction and glides seamlessly through the homemade skate park in the back of the company’s California lab. Currently it can only glide on very conductive surfaces like aluminum or copper. Other limitations include the extraordinary weight of the thing, weighing in at close to 90 pounds. It takes 40 watts per kilogram in order to hover a human body, and at the moment that is a lot of power.
Still, we can dream. The company does plan a limited series of parks made out of any non-ferromagnetic conductor that the board requires. More importantly, this is only the first step. Batteries are becoming drastically more efficient with nanotechnology and there are theories that show a company might be able to use the natural magnetism of the earth to the same effect. Imagine a day where you could walk out your apartment door and slam one of these babies down and literally fly to work? Or what about having a remote-controlled coffee table (another of Arx Pax’s inventions) hover you a cold beer from the kitchen on game day? I can. And it’s closer than we think.
Besides, that doesn’t really limit the excitement of flying one feels when they go and try one of these babies out.
Behind the technology is Greg Henderson’s vision of “magnetic field architecture,” or MFA, that focuses the electromagnetic activity and doesn’t need the complex electronic structures and sensors that are currently employed in other levitating devices that employ maglev technology. In San Diego, for instance, a new maglev track being tested costs $750K per track-meter whereas Henderson’s company, Arx Pax, claims it could do the same for $10K per meter.
The implications for this technology are endless and Henderson’s Hendo hoverboard is the first step, and in the view of this nostalgia driven Back-to-The-Future-loving fanboy, the most important step. The Hendo technology kit is now available in a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Henderson’s larger projects. The Hendo hoverboard itself goes for a cool $10K, skate park not included.