A California Couple Has Made the World's First Working Hoverboard

It's basically a maglev train that you can stand on.

Oct 21 2014, 2:05pm

Image: Kickstarter/Hendo Hoverboards

This post has been translated from Motherboard Germany.

Hoverboards have been a matter so futuristic that thought of seeing one in the real world still sounds like science fiction. But  the advances needed for the production of the floating tech has progressed steadily, so it was only a matter of time before these things will be available to the public—a California couple says they've finally figured it out.

As it so often is, it's a Kickstarter project that wants to bring hoverboard tech to normal households. Jill and Greg Henderson developed the Hendo Hoverboard and a separate DIY kit to help you put one together yourself. 

Greg used what's called Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA), which is based on Lenz's law (an electromagnetic principle that magnetic energy is conserved), to design the hoverboard, which is the same tech that makes maglev trains work.

If this thing takes off, he says he wants to use the technology to revolutionize the future of transportation.

"The hoverboard is just the first step, it's a proof of concept," Greg said. It's "the simplest way of demonstrating our technology in a way everyone can understand."

So far, the board hovers just an inch above the ground. But, still: It floats!

The board uses four disc-shaped motors to lift it off the ground. These produce a special magnetic field that repels itself and the hoverboard pushes away from the ground. The catch (and, unfortunately, there's always a catch, isn't there?) is that the board will only hover over nonferrous metals such as copper or aluminum.

Image: Hendo Hoverboards

The Hendersons say that, in the future, you should be able to hover above normal ground or even above water. But, until then, you'll have to hang out in nearby Hoverparks (you do have one of those near you, right?)

The hoverboard is of course not yet a perfect technology, but it works. As with most Kickstarters, the Hendersons say that they can perfect it with a little more time and money, but early adopters can get the original board for $10,000.

Image: Hendo Hoverboards

It's admittedly hard not to totally fall for the inventive Kickstarter video the Hendersons made—it's easy to let your imagination run wild.

And, well, if you have a healthy imagination, the hoverboard itself isn't the only attraction here. The Hendersons are also selling what they're calling the "White Box," which contains a hover engine that you can use to build whatever you want.

And here's a gif of the thing:

Image: Hendo Hoverboards

As we've learned many times before, with both hoverboards and Kickstarters, it's important not to buy into the hype too early: People have been burned too many times. But, already, it appears that this seemingly down-to-Earth couple has something good going on here:  The New York Times checked it out, and Sean Buckley over at Engadget actually rode the thing.

"The levitating board wiggled slightly under my 200-pound frame, but maintained its altitude (a mere inch or so) without visible strain," Buckley wrote.

Hey, at this point, we'll take it.