EDITORIAL: Since the summer of 1989 and Marty McFly’s epic ride, children of all ages (who are now adults) have been screaming for the invention of a practical and access all areas hoverboard, and if the movie timelines are correct we should all be hovering by October 21 this year. Reality? it’s not going to happen.
With moguls and countries all concentrating their funds on space exploration, electric cars and weapons that could incinerate the planet, the humble hover-board seems to have been relegated to a hollywood fairy tale.
Enter Hendohover. A company that recently raised over half a million dollars on Kickstarter and by all accounts have created a working prototype. They are currently in production to ship developer kits later this year. The board is able to hover about 4cm off the ground and as long as its over a metal surface such as copper it’s a real life “I want it now” hoverboard. Its principles are much like the levitating Japanese maglev trains that are currently breaking speed records.
The Hendohover board has four magnetic field engines mounted underneath the deck, that enable it to sustain the hover. The catch? The board has to be used above the copper surface, couple that with a 10 minute ride time and you might barely make it beyond your front gate. However, they did have Tony Hawk ride it on a copper half pipe which is surely worth a few points.
Will anyone else try to fulfil our dreams? Aside from a couple of reasonably vague videos and promo teasers – Lexus seem to have at last had a go at it. Their videos show a very “Lexus slick” board, coupled with authentic smoke and an ability to drift much like the Hendohover, and the technology behind it is much the same. The smoke however is not just a cool effect, liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees C) is used to cool the super magnets and as soon as the board heats it stops working, and unless you have access to a large supply of liquid nitrogen its practicality is more like a brick. Lexus is promising more details on August 5, so stay tuned to learn whether its a reality or pure marketing spin to support its 2016 model cars.
I have no idea how far away a marketable and usable hoverboard is, but at least we are closer than 1989. Until we can unbind the board from having to run on a structured copper surface, we have a practicality problem, but at least we have companies dedicating themselves to this type of technology instead of making drones with guns.
Until then you may have to be content with Nike promising Back to the Future auto-lacing shoes later this year to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the franchise.
UPDATE: (August 2015) Lexus have released their hoverboard. It still has restrictions, but worth checking out.
Written by my mate Steve – UX guru @Envato