Since the 1980’s, people have been long-anticipating the invention of a hoverboard. Finally, after so many years of waiting, the time to ride has arrived—though you may want to hold off on getting your self-tying Nikes and turning your pockets inside out. Unfortunately, there may be more limitations to the technology than you had hoped for.
In October 2014, Greg Henderson took to Kickstarter and revealed his prototype hoverboard to the public. His take on hoverboard technology shows a somewhat bulkier and less streamlined version of what people might have wanted, but it effectively levitates above the ground. That is, of course, assuming it is above some sort of magnetic surface. The board relies on a sort of magnetic hover engine, which uses the opposing magnetic force to hold it up above the surface. Still, with a completion date set for October 12, 2015, it is better than a plain old skateboard. There’s some competition, though; Hendo is not the only company working with hoverboard technology.
Of course, if the Hendo Hoverboard doesn’t quite look like what you were expecting, you might be interested in knowing Lexus has also unveiled a new concept. With a promotional video unveiled in late June of 2015, they showed a demo where individuals were riding this board around in a skate park. Unfortunately, the end product is very heavy and production limitations suggest it won’t be made available to the public anytime soon, leaving Hendo as the closest hope.
The problem with any of these technologies is that they rely on magnets to work. Basically, they function similar to maglev trains, allowing them to hover slightly above the ground—but only if the ground has non-ferrous metals in it. In the case of Hendo, the board is also quite difficult to control, and even someone who is quite skilled on a normal skateboard might find it difficult to get used to the controls. The superconducting Lexus model might be a little easier to handle, but it still has the same magnetic limitations, leaving consumers with something less than that full-functioning hoverboard they had hoped for.
Though the immediate future of hoverboard technology might be restricted by its need for magnetic surfaces, enthusiasts are still hoping for a brighter future. Perhaps new sidewalks will be constructed using magnetic materials that allow for the use of magnetic hoverboards, or maybe scientists will find a way to magnetize all water so you can make your escape over a lake or river. More likely though, it will just require some more time and a new perspective on the basic approach if they hope to get results.