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Back to the Future was right: a working hoverboard will be available in 2015

The good news: Just like Back to the Future Part II promised, you will be able to get your hands (or feet) on a working hoverboard on Oct. 21, 2015.

Back to the Future hoverboard
The super stylish Back to the Future Part II hoverboard.

The bad news: The board, which is called the Hendo, will cost $10,000 and the battery only lasts 7 minutes.

Despite the hefty price tag, Arx Pax, the Los Gatos, Calif., startup behind the board, let me take it for a ride Monday afternoon. I wasn’t immediately steady enough to jerk the board in different directions, but I kept my balance as it slowly spun in a circle while I bounced between two of Arx Pax’s engineers. The board was large, almost like a doublewide snowboard. It felt as if I was standing on a giant air hockey puck hovering three quarters of an inch above the ground.

That's me on the Hendo hoverboard. Photo by Arx Pax.
That’s me on the Hendo hoverboard. Photo by Arx Pax.

Arx Pax doesn’t actually care much about giving you a totally rad new way to get from point A to B. Its real focus is a square white box that it is also offering up as a part of the $250,000 Kickstarter campaign it launched today. It’s a developer kit that’s meant to help anyone add hovering capabilities to anything they want, from a priceless work of art in a museum at risk for earthquakes to a robot moving parcels across a warehouse floor.

The big catch is that the Hendo can only hover over some types of metal. At the Arx Pax office, we hovered over a floor and half pipe covered in copper. That’s because the board generates a magnetic field. When there is a sheet of metal underneath, it is powerful enough to push the board upward (it’s the same technology as a Maglev train). The developer kit can support up to 40 pounds. The Hendo board can support up to 300 pounds, with support for 500 pounds planned for the future. It only dipped for a fraction of a second when I hopped on.

Arx Pax hoverboard
The Hendo hoverboard I rode hovered three quarters of an inch above the ground. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Arx Pax’s founders, husband and wife team Greg and Jill Henderson, aren’t shy about the aspirations they have for the technology; they want to see everything from flying cars to space elevators made with it. When you speak with them, it’s clear that they generally live by that kind of ambition. Jill used to work in communications, while Greg was an architect. Jill described him sitting at home at their table with Wikipedia open, grappling over how to make his dream of levitation possible.

“It’s the advantage of showing up without everyone else’s preconceived scientific notions,” Greg said. “We don’t have the proofs written out. A lot of scientists find that offensive. When we get this technology out into the hands of everyone else, that’s something I hope we can catch up on.”

Greg and Jill Henderson with a Hendo board. Photo by Signe Brewster.
Greg and Jill Henderson with a Hendo board. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Arx Pax will refine the board over the next year to make it smaller and more stylish. It emits a noise right now that sounds like a cross between a fan, screaming and nails on a chalkboard, but within the next few months the startup expects to have it be completely silent (the developer kit is already totally silent). The team will also make it possible to step onto the board before it starts hovering. I witnessed a prototype called “Manta Ray” jump up from the ground and begin hovering without the lift the board needed to start.

It’s possible to make the board hover higher, but one engineer explained that to double the hover height to 1.5 inches it would eat up about four times as much energy. Only certain applications would call for that kind of power consumption.

So now that we’ve solved hoverboards, where are those flying cars from Back to the Future?

39 Responses to “Back to the Future was right: a working hoverboard will be available in 2015”

  1. Larissa

    IF THIS COMPANY IS GOING TO SELL THAT PIECE OF CRAP FOR 10,000 DOLLARS IT BETTER BE A LONGER TIME TO RIDE ON IT IF U DONT READ THIS MESSAGE WHEN NIKE LETS THEIR NEW LINE OF SHOES OUT IM BUYING THAT INSTEAD OF THE HOVERBOARD BECAUSE IT WILL COST LESS AND U CAN USE THEM FOR MORE THAT 7 MINUTES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Perspective

    To Dr Zilman, if you are a Dr you probably know & investigated before you wrote what you wrote but take a look at this & what the makers said about their “brick”, from Wikipedia “The New York Times said that although the board worked, Greg Henderson had no personal interest in skateboarding and that the kickstarter was “basically a publicity stunt”, designed to call attention to Hendo’s magnetic levitation technology which Henderson was more interested in using for other applications, such as an emergency maglev mechanism capable of raising buildings from their foundations to protect them from earthquakes. Henderson was quoted as saying, “That’s why we picked the hoverboard: to capture that attention. If one in 10 people realize there is another use for this stuff, that would be a great success.”
    So yes a fail, & won’t be marketed, or sold to the public. The thing sucks & they know this, just using it to bring attention to their other products. Take care all,
    Perspective

  3. Classified

    Figured out how to make it work without copper, thanks to a Dr. Tarun of SrTiO3 fame.
    The basic idea is to use Al2O3 coated onto a surface then a top layer of SrTiO3 and a simple UV LED array to make it briefly conductive.
    once so treated the surface would remain twice as conductive as copper for hours.

    It doesen’t have to be that thick as the titanate layer need only be as thick as EL sheet (ie 0.2mm).

  4. wesley whaley

    yall read anything, or did yall read the headline and then watch the vid. yes it makes a loud noise, NO they arnt just making a flying brick and trying to hock it around. this is a prototype and it only exists so showcase a kit that can make anything hover. the kit makes absolutely no sounds and they plan on making the board silent and more elegant.

    • David Martino

      The same way 1980s cellphones had terrible reception, limited areas of coverage and poor battery life. Give this 30 years and we’ll see where they are then.

  5. Jay Dillon

    “Another “rotating device” example is shown in a series of patents granted to Henry Wallace between 1968 and 1974. His devices consist of rapidly spinning disks of brass, a material made up largely of elements with a total half-integer nuclear spin. He claimed that by rapidly rotating a disk of such material, the nuclear spin became aligned, and as a result created a “gravitomagnetic” field in a fashion similar to the magnetic field created by the Barnett effect.[16][17][18] No independent testing or public demonstration of these devices is known.” [quoted from Wikipedia.org , antigravity, Henry William Wallace “kinemassic” field generator invention, patented in the USA in 1971. ]

    I had a website in Geocities in 1997 in which I provided hotlink to an engineer who had tested a Wallace “kinemassic” field generator. He reported positive results. Later he requested that I remove any links to this information. His reason for asking this was that he had posted the information early in his career and would no longer vouch for it.

    A few years later Geocities was bought out by Yahoo and immediately shut down.

    If you are seeking to verify the Wallace device, I recommend testing it yourself in your own garage, provided you use extreme safety precautions for experimental high speed rotors. Engineering safety absolutely must be professionally checked because metals can fly apart at high speeds. You may also want to seek out any engineering lab tests that may have been done on this principle such as Jean-Louis Naudin’s test lab, JLN Labs, located in France. (If independent tests have not been done yet, they need to be done ASAP.)

  6. Battery Life? and limitations I know that is using air as a cushion so Allys and such would be improbable or any point where the surface were not to be present. Interesting though. #GoodWork

    • alluvialsin

      The magnets actually need to change their output based on load to maintain a constant height, also a static magnet of such strength can pose a lot of safety risks.

    • David Martino

      A magnet with a PERSON on it. On a *half-pipe*. Try that in physics lab.
      And no, you did not see a magnet floating above metal in Physics; you saw a magnet floating above another magnet.

      • Are you saying that we can only comment if we have a counter-proposal?
        I can say whatever I want about this article if they are trying to sell it to the public.
        At the end we, as COSTUMERS, have the right or express ourselves about something we could buy.
        My opinion about this floating board: Its cost can be compared to a brand new vehicle (motorcycle or car)
        The utility: Is usless! 7 mins, and as somebody mentioned before, only floating in polish surfaces.
        NO, THANKS.

        • S. Hernandez

          Are you a COSTUMER making COSTUMES or a CUSTOMER who wants to buy?? They aren’t for sale. Do more research. Listen to Mr. Henderson explain it. It is a TECHNOLOGY that has been developed and patented and not a “skate board for sale”. Stay tuned, I am confident this company will change the way the world works in many ways.

    • David Martino

      He can’t power it forward because right now it’s too darn big to get one foot off it to push off from. Can you get a skate board that size and that weight up to 30mph on that half-pipe? Give it the same 30-40 years the skateboard has been around and then we’ll see how much it’s improved. No brakes on a skateboard either – you have to use your body to manipulate the board to slow down or stop. Which relies on friction. This board is frictionless, which means new methods will have to be discovered to slow or stop it. Plus, the engineering is scalable, which means any progress is not a waste.

    • Dr Zilman

      Well what do you expect from the very first experimental hover board?

      Now, post up the video or your hover board and we can compare them…

      …what, what was that, speak up, oh that’s right, you haven’t made a hover board!

      • Chris Totty

        oh I’m sorry, where’s YOUR hover board?
        oh that’s right, you’re just a keyboard warrior.

        this is a floating brick. no directional capabilities, no speed, huge, and makes an awful screeching noise. 10k is not worth a floating brick that hovers only 3/4 an inch and can barely move.
        before you ask me where’s MY hover board, please, stop flattering yourself, fanboy. these guys started a fundraiser through kickstarter in order to attempt this. they’re failing so far, but yet they seem contempt with what they have. so, it’ll never work out for them.
        as for me, sure, I’ll make a kickstarter. I’ll start a real project for a real hoverboard. not a floating brick.

        • But that is what they are trying to do? You have to start somewhere, you don’t go from 0- awesome perfectly functioning technologically mastered hoverboard on your first try. That is what prototypes are for. So yeah, make a kickstarter and lets see if your first try hoverboard is a floating brick or not.

        • A skateboard is the same way. Who controls which direction it goes?
          A person and gravity.
          The only difference is that a skateboard has friction preventing it from spinning around. If this is the first few prototypes, I’m impressed.

          And not to be fanboying / defending this too much because it is most certainly a brick, that’s not my point… mobile phones started as bricks, too.

        • David Martino

          Right now, yes. it’s a brick. So were the first mobile phones. So were the first pocket calculators. Some was the first GameBoy. You have to start *somewhere.* “No directional capabilities”? I would say it has ALL directional capabilities. Try replicating his performance on the pipe with a skateboard of the same size and weight. “Barely move”? I saw it go end to end on the pipe and back to front. Pretty good for something that can ‘barely move’. You don’t like it? Don’t buy it. Don’t support it. But don’t knock it for being the first of it’s kind.