It's difficult to talk about hoverboards without raising a specific movie title, so we're not straight going to try: Recall that breathtaking scene from Back to the Future Part II? It's one step nearer to realism: A California startup just made a real, operational hoverboard. Arx Pax is trying to crowd fund the Hendo Hoverboard as a impermeable of concept for its hover machine technology -- it's not quite the free skateboard Marty McFly rode over Hill Valley (and the Wild West), but it's an clear forerunner to the imagined ridable: a self-powered, floating platform with sufficient power to lift a fully grownup mature.
I originally come up to the floating pallet with care, imagining it to dip and bob under my mass like a bit of driftwood. It didn't. The floating board jiggled slightly under my 200-pound frame, but preserved its height (a mere inch or so) without noticeable strain. Arx Pax tells me that the present model can easily support 300 pounds and upcoming versions will be able to embrace up to 500 pounds without question. Anyway, you'll need to float over a very explicit kind of exterior to get it to hold anything: The Hendo uses the similar kind of electromagnetic field technology that drifts MagLev trains -- meaning it will only ascend above non-ferrous metals like copper or aluminum.
Riding the device was a lot fun, but also quite the task: The Hendo hover board doesn't ride at all like McFly's hovering skateboard. In fact, without a thrust system, it tends to drift pointlessly. Arx Pax founder and Hendo creator Greg Henderson says it's somewhat the company is functioning on. "We can divulge a bias," he tells me, aiming out pressure-sensitive pads on the hoverboard's floor that operate the engines. "We can turn on or off unlike axes of drive." Sure sufficient, sloping on one side of the board persuades it to rotate and float in the chosen direction. Without sensing the resistance of the ground, though, I had concern knowing how much stress to exert -- Henderson's assistants had to jump in and save me from revolving out of control. Clearly, this might take some training.
As fun as its present form is, Henderson didn't essentially set out to reinvent transport. The Hendo engine's new motivation came from construction. "It came from the idea of flying a building out of harm's way," he says. "If you can float a train that weigh up 50,000 kilograms, why not a house?" After some poking, he illuminates the idea as a sort of backup lifting method that could hypothetically raise a building off of its base during an earthquake, fundamentally interpreting the natural disaster's quakes meaningless.
The idea sounds as imaginary as, well, a hover board -- but he now built one of those. Henderson says that levitating a building is a long-term objective. For now, the technology is in its initial phases, and he's just exasperating to get it in the fingers of engineers with big thoughts.
That's where the Hendo "white box" originates in. Backers who fund to the company's Kickstarter at the $299 level will take a complete, operational Hendo hover engine and sufficient hover surface to play about with. It's a designer kit, Henderson says, and he wants manufacturers to use it to build their own hover plans. If they have an clue they need to take to market, Arx Pax will labor with them to make it a truth. "The most vital piece of it all for me is the idea of captivating away the boundaries of how we reflect about difficulties in general. Not just thoughtful outside the box, but off the page," he says, clarifying how Hover technology could be utilized to solve old difficulties in new ways. "At what time you do that -- when you reach problems that were apparently difficult in different ways -- you'll never stop to be astonished by the answers you can come up with."
While long-term objectives go beyond that of the not-so-humble hoverboard, there are alot of Kickstarter goals motivated on scraping that itch entirely. For instance, 250 sponsors at the $100 level will be qualified for a five-minute outing on one of the company's original boards, and $1,000 buys a secretly trained hour-long ride. Not happy with just leasing hover-time? Okay, okay: The first 10 benefactors to donate $10,000 will get a hoverboard to keep. The delivery date? 10/21/2015 -- the date Marty McFly reaches in the future.