Who doesn’t want a hoverboard? Ever since 1989, when Back to the Future Part II showed us a glimpse of the distant future – well, 2015 – and the ability to get around on a levitating skateboard, we’ve all openly desired one. A hoverboard belongs in an exclusive group of near-future readily available technologies that every single human on this planet has on their ultimate wish list, which also includes jetpacks, teleportation devices and, for any fans of Doctor Who out there, sonic screwdrivers. In fact, 2015 seems to be the year of the hoverboard: With several companies already throwing their hat into the ring, another contender, Mr Hoverboard, has surprised no-one by inventing its own version of the hallowed device.
The company’s crowdfunding website begins as it only could: surreally. “Mr Hoverboard is the latest and greatest in anti-gravitational toys. Using common hovercraft technology and modern day ingenuity, riders are able to glide frictionlessly over smooth surfaces such as concrete, wood, and flooring.”
So what on Earth powers this device, which the makers describe as being constructed out of “Baltic birch plywood, PVC, and belief”? Is it some sort of superconducting magnet relay? Ion thrusters? Does it harness the power of the Force in some way?
Well, not quite. In fact, it uses the awesome power of – wait for it – leaf blowers. That’s right: attach four leaf blowers to this elegant plank and you can genuinely hover around. Add some LEDs underneath and you’ve got yourself a pretty futuristic looking method of transportation. You maneuver it in the same way you would a Segway, by leaning and going with the flow.
By donating $420 (£275) to the crowdfunded project (leaf blowers not included), you can help bring this working concept to life, and secure a hoverboard kit of your own. You have to build it yourself, sure, but it doesn’t look more complicated than putting together a piece of IKEA furniture.
How does this relatively affordable hoverboard compare to its more high-tech competitors? The super sleek Lexus Slide, which is powered by superconducting magnets cooled by liquid nitrogen, only works on a custom-built magnetic track. As you can imagine, the costs are somewhat astronomical, and you can only hover around on that specific track. It gets a bunch of cool points for how genuinely futuristic it looks, though.
Tony Hawk, skateboard peddler extraordinaire, is fronting another hoverboard. The Hendo Hover also uses a series of conductors and electromagnets to levitate. Unfortunately, you can only do so if you happen to own a personal skate park made out of copper. It is certainly cheaper than the Lexus version, though.
If only a superconducting magnet that could work at room temperature could be developed and stuck inside a hoverboard, I hear you say. Oddly enough, these almost magical magnets – which wouldn’t require the expensive liquid nitrogen cooling system present in the Lexus Slide – already exist, but they are at present fairly unwieldy and unbelievably expensive.
Still, the fact that we do have the technology to invent working hoverboards means that we are one step closer to the high-tech future we all dream about. In the meantime, though, if you can’t wait for a futuristic hoverboard, I’d recommend checking out Mr Hoverboard’s crowdfunding campaign. Just don’t expect a time-traveling DeLorean to give you a lift any time soon.