Tech trends for 2015: The hoverboard
As the world's first real hoverboard gears up for launch, 2015 will see revolutionary developments in technology which was previously the stuff of fantasy...
“Although not quite the hoverboard of Back to the Future, […] hoverboard technology [like Hendo] could offer interesting alternatives to modes of transport.”
According to Hendo Hoverboards, the Californian start-up creating the first ever real hoverboard, we’re now less than a year away from having actual functioning hoverboards, October 2015 to be precise, which means next year will see tech make one of the biggest jumps in turning sci-fi fiction into commercial reality.
Co-produced by Arx Pax Labs, the ‘Hendo’ is the work of founders Greg and Jill Henderson who assert that the evolution of hoverboard technology shows how far “daring to wonder is now paying off” having already produced a working hoverboard with the aim now to scale the technology.
Claiming to be “smoother than any ride on wheels”, the hoverboard can lift up to 250 pounds of weight one inch off the ground and is able to integrate your body movements while it moves. The Hendo creators are even creating the world’s first “HoverPark” in Silicon Valley where users will be able to test the functioning hoverboards with five minute rides starting from $100 to become available from March 2015. Unsurprisingly this technology doesn’t come cheap; you can pay $10,000 to become one of the first 10 people to own a Hendo when the product is ready to ship in October.
Little explanation is needed as to why hoverboard technology is so exciting but it’s the development of this prototype and Henderson’s plans to take it to market which are proving really interesting. The company’s Kickstarter crowdfunding project has already overfunded its $250,000 target with $480,000 raised from over 3,000 backers with three days left to run and, although sceptics could argue securing funding for such a revolutionary idea is easy, it’s not only “armchair investors” who have shown their support. The tech community at large has been keeping a watchful eye on the developments and skating legend Tony Hawk has shown his support, trialling the prototype model.
Although Hendo admits a working hoverboard is a “big dream”, all evidence points to the fact it’s no longer just sci-fi fluff and the start-up is equally as keen to see what other developers can do with its technology. It has made its ‘white boxes’, a scaled down set of its hover engines, widely available to “encourage global co-creation”; whether it be for hovering or for new applications or devices.
How it works
Hendo’s hoverboard technology focuses around the complex use of magnets – “Magnetic Field Architecture” – in order to create enough power to levitate the board off the ground. Its uses four hover engines which give it enough stability to fly one inch above ground with the engines inducing an opposing magnetic field in the surface below which provides the lift.
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While the technology primarily enables the board to be self-propelled, these magnets can also be used to drive the board forwards by altering the projected force of the underneath surface.
And boards aren’t the only thing that tech developers and scientists are working on; entrepreneur Chris Malloy is currently producing the word’s first flying motorcycle – the hoverbike – which incorporates drones and robotics to create a “whole new way to fly”. Although Malloy’s hoverbike appears to have had less early success; it’s Kickstarter project saw it raise just £64,000 from 450 investors, this technology is definitely one to watch.
Dominic McVey, the young entrepreneur who brought micro-scooters to the UK, discussed the potential of Hendo hoverboards and the like:
“Not quite the hoverboard of Back to the Future and there’s a lot of limitations, but in years to come hoverboard technology could offer interesting alternatives to current modes of transport.
“You won’t see any of these hovering down the streets of London for some time, as the surface has to be made of a particular material.”