Ask yourself, does the present look like what science fiction writers and film makers envisioned it would? The answer, sadly, is no. Movies lied. Books have been written about the disappointment, notably Dammit Science, Where’s My Hoverboard? Well, that retro-futurist piece of technology immortalized in our imagination by one Marty McFly may have just become a reality.
The company is Hendo Hoverboards, and with well over six weeks left to go on their Kickstarter project, they’ve already raised well over the quarter of a million dollars needed to proceed with the fabrication of the world first real Hoverboard
According to Hendo’s kickstarter page the hoverboard works by using four ‘disc shaped hover engines’ that create ‘a special magnetic field which literally pushes against itself, generating lift’. It’s similar in concept to the way a Maglev train works. (In related news, a Maglev train that could take passengers from New York to Washington in just one hour may also be in the works). While the board wont be on tracks, Like a train, it is going to need specific kinds of surface to push off of. Currently the board works only on ‘non-ferromagnetic conductors’ which are being tested in the form of ‘simple sheets.’ This has lead the company to design hover parks based on those used for ‘traditional board sports’.
It’s worth noting that Hendo’s goals go way beyond building hoverboards. The company appears to suggest on their Kickstarter that they are taking an approach to engineering a stable and sustainable propulsion technology that would advance the science of magnetic levitation beyond the electrodynamic/magnetic suspension techniques that have been successfully applied to transportation.
Lenz’s law explains how eddy currents are created when magnets are moved relative to a conductive material. These eddy currents in turn create an opposing magnetic field in the conductor. Our core technology, which we call Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA™), focuses this field more efficiently.
So what’s a hover board go for these days? The asking price for the first run of ten was 10,000 dollars. They’re all gone, so you’ll have to wait for the second generation. Actually that’s probably a good thing, given that the current board can only run for seven minutes, only works on smooth surfaces and makes an unpleasant screeching noise while it’s operating (soon to be replaced with an awesome whoosh, one would hope).