If the movie Back To The Future is not merely a piece of much-loved fiction and actually prophetic, then the reality of hoverboards is just one year away. So now, with one company claiming they can actually deliver exactly that very soon, will that dream become a reality? What remains to be seen however, is if this promise has a little more substance than the various hoaxes that have come out in the years since Back To The Future was filmed.
For this dream to come in to fruition in a practical sense, and hover over all surfaces, and in particular solid surfaces, technological breakthrough the likes of which we have not yet witnessed, would need to eventuate very soon. Perhaps a more realistic answer would be a type of solo version of a maglev train, but then again, the novelty of riding along the same track over and over again, would soon become a bit stale.
The most recent claims of hoverboard reality though, actually lie somewhere in between these two ideas. The company Arx Pax, who often refer to themselves as Hendo, claim that their new development will be able to carry the rider over any conductor that is not ferromagnetic (anything that does not contain iron, nickel or cobalt) rather than only being able to hover over a repulsive magnet.
Arx Pax claim that their new hoverboard will be only the mere beginning, and a way of getting the proverbial ball rolling for capacity of technology which will eventually pave the way for flying cars and earthquake-proof buildings. It seems that they have certainly managed convince some people already, as their Kickstarter campaign more than half-funded.
The idea is indeed very possible. Under Lenz's Law, a changing electric current will generate a counterbalancing current in nearby conducting materials, and each will produce a magnetic field that will repel the other. Whilst it might be quite difficult to materialise something which relies on magnetic fields stable enough, it does appear that Arx Pax have managed to take a legitimate leap in heading in that direction.
The biggest challenge for the company would appear to being able to create something capable of producing enough power to support the weight of a human rider, and then of course, sustain that for long enough using batteries small enough to deliver a worthwhile experience. In the cars of electric cars, for example, battery technology has improved to suit the needs of such things, but in the case of hoverboards, whilst Arx Pax appear to be edging closer in some regard, they don’t really seem to be displaying a whole heap of evidence suggesting that they are capable of turning their dream, and Kickstarter supporter’s cash, in to a reality just yet.
If and when the powering issues can be sorted out and fixed, it might still be a stretch to expect the stunts that Michael J. Fox pulled off in Back To The Future. The folks in charge of producing that great film were indeed movie producers, and didn’t appear to have much time for reality and the ever-challenging laws of physics.