Will the Hendo Hoverboard take us back to the future?

The Kickstarter page for Hendo Hoverboard promises a working model for $10,000. But what powers this technology?

Arx Pax
The Hendo Hoverboard levitates about an inch off the ground using electromagnetic field repulsion.

We might be seeing the pre-pre-pre-prototype of Marty McFly’s hoverboard. Arx Pax, a small start-up from Los Gatos, Calif., launched a Kickstarter campaign Tuesday for a hoverboard and other hovering inventions.

The future might not quite be now, but the very first taste of it will run you $10,000 for a hoverboard. The board levitates about one inch off the ground and the battery runs for 7 minutes, but looking at demonstrations given to writers at Gigaom and The Verge, it works.

The board is powered by electromagnetic levitation, requiring conductive material underneath it to function. This is in contrast to air cushioning, which powers hovercraft and merely reduces friction between the ground and the vehicle.

While the Hendo Hoverboard uses hover systems that are similar to the maglev systems that powers some trains in South Korea and Japan, the hoverboard runs on a significantly smaller budget and scale. The company isn’t afraid to scale up their hover systems, either.

“Unlike magnetic levitation systems employed today, our hover systems are comparably inexpensive and completely sustainable,” the Kickstarter campaign page says. “Lifting a wide range of loads - whether it’s a person riding a hoverboard (what we were all expecting) or a building riding out an earthquake (what we never imagined could be possible) - is all within reach.”

The Hendo Hoverboard will be presented to backers on October 21, 2015 at Hendo headquarters, according to the campaign. In the meanwhile, there are a couple other options on Kickstarter using the same sort of technology, such as a hackable “Whitebox” developer kit that the company encourages users take apart and apply in ways of their choosing.

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