Earlier this year, a company by the name of HuvrTech emerged online with the promise of real-life, Back to the Future-inspired hoverboards for sale by this Christmas. HuvrTech supported their groundbreaking proclamation with video of musicians like Moby and Best Coast riding majestically through the air. Director Robert Zemeckis’ glorious vision of the future, it seemed, had at last been delivered onto us.
Like so much on the Internet, though, it all turned out to be just another ginormous promotional campaign, and our hopes for the future were dashed. (Not unlike how Marty McFly’s were dashed when he found out his father was a nervous pervert as a teenager.) From that disappointment, though, comes renewed promise, as another, decidedly real company has created an actual, functional hoverboard.
As Engadget points out, the California-based startup Aryn Pax is currently crowdfunding its Hendo Hoverboard, “a self-powered, levitating platform with enough power to lift a fully grown adult.” The board works quite similarly to MagLev trains, meaning it uses electromagnetic technology to repel and then float above non-ferrous metals like aluminum and copper. The current version of the Hendo can support up to 300 pounds, while the final product will reportedly hold up to 500 pounds.
Unfortunately, as the folks at Engadget found out, you won’t exactly be able to outmaneuver bullies in a futuristic city square while atop your Hendo. Instead, as the device is without a functioning propulsion system, it just sort of floats around. However, Arx Pax CEO Greg Henderson said the company is at work on some sort of propulsive engine. In the meantime, he explained that leaning on one side convinces the board “to rotate and drift in the desired direction.” Thanks to a complete lack of friction, which normally gives riders an idea of how much pressure to exert, the board does have a tendency to spin wildly out of control.
Of course, those limitations makes sense, given that the Hendo’s original design has less to do with transportation and more to do with architecture. “It came from the idea of hovering a building out of harm’s way,” Henderson said. “If you can levitate a train that weighs 50,000 kilograms, why not a house?” He added that the goal of moving actual buildings is quite a ways away, and the company is currently just trying to understand the scope of the technology before “getting it in the hands of engineers with big ideas.”
The Hendo Kickstarter page has already reached $69,000 of its $250,000 goal, with the campaign ending December 15th. Incentives for the project range from $100 for a five-minute ride to $1,000 for an hour-long private coaching session. Arx Pax is also offering the “White Box”: $299 will get you a Hendo engine to design your very own hover-related project.
Got $10,000 to drop? That’ll buy you very own Hendo board, with an expected deliver date of 10/21/2015 (aka the very day Marty McFly arrives in the future). Head here to contribute.
Below, watch the Hendo board in action. Then, contemplate what could be with the hoverboard scene from Back to the Future.