Science and Tech


Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck.
Posted at 12:41 PM, Oct 21, 2014

The hoverboard: For the past 25 years, it's been the barometer for people asking, "Are we in the future yet?" And now it's finally here.

MARTY MCFLY,  v: "I need to borrow your ... hoverboard?"

It's not pink, it's not made by Mattel, and as far as we know, no one has used it to outrun a gang of futuristic thugs ... yet. But one couple has decided to bring one of the most memorable parts of "Back to the Future Part II" to life.

Meet the Hendo Hoverboard. Well, its prototype, at least. It's the brainchild of Greg and Jill Henderson in Los Gatos, California.

Maybe you'd think Marty McFly's 1989 hover encounter was the entire inspiration behind this technology, but it wasn't. According to The New York Times, Greg says he ultimately wants to apply the hover technology to housing. 

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake inspired Greg to find a way to make buildings float so they could better withstand earthquakes.

They had to start somewhere, so why not a hoverboard to get attention? 

The couple launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Hendo Hoverboard Tuesday. They're looking to raise $250,000 to take the board out of its prototype stage. And if you want one yourself, it'll cost a pricey $10K. 

For the more modest price of $300, you can get "The Whitebox" — a developer kit people can play around with to find new ways of using the magnetic technology Hendo uses. 

That magnetic technology, The Verge says, is simply a little electromagnetism and Lenz's law. Scaled up, it can fit on everything from the tiny dev kit white box to entire buildings. At least according to Greg.

But as GigaOM points out, the Hendersons' magnetic tech is limited to certain conductive surfaces, like copper. And it's loud. 

Of course, this technology isn't new, just more compact. Japan has been testing experimental maglev train technology for years and recently approved a $50 billion train line that will go 300 miles an hour. 

The Hendo Hoverboard is expected to be released Oct. 21, 2015 — a date that should be familiar to any "Back to the Future" fan. Until then, maybe you can make your own leaf-blower hoverboard at home.

This video includes an image from Lee Jordan / CC BY SA 2.0.