The Future is Now! (where’s my Hoverboard?)


It’s 2007 and I’m finding that I’m being surrounded by the same fads that kept me entertained as a child. Transformers the movie just came out as well as Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dukes of Hazard, and Miami vice. I’m just waiting for someone to remake the A-team and Knight Rider. That’s just in the realm of movies. Walking around in Seattle, it’s impossible not to to notice the abundance of feathered mullets and glam rock hair styles, not to mention the slip on checkered vans with no socks. The eighties rocked and, at the same time, sucked balls.

Being a product of eighties culture, I developed certain interests such as GrandMaster Flash and the Furious 5, Casio Keyboards, parachute pants, Atari, Stompers, and, most of all, skateboarding.  I was an official, unannounced, silent partner of the legendary Bones Brigade.  My life, for many years, consisted of nothing but school and skateboarding.  I was gleaming the cube.  Then, in 1989, I saw “Back to the Future 2″ and was blown away by this revolutionary new concept known only as “The Hoverboard.”

Never in my life did I want something so bad.  Where would I purchase this rocket board of possibilities?  There was a rumor going around that Hover Boards were real, however, certain parental groups were protesting their availability due to safety concerns.  These are the same parents that let their children rally down hills on banana boards barefoot.  “Don’t be so gullable McFly”.

I recently learned that Robert Zemeckis, himself, may have been the driving force behind this misguided belief.  Apparently, Michael J. Fox has claimed that, tired of being asked to explain the special effects, Zemeckis would answer with such responses as,”What do you mean, how did we do it?  It’s a real hover-board.  It flies.  Michael [J. Fox] just practiced a lot.  He started the rumor in “Good Fun“.  Later, he made the claims Hoverboards have been around for years, but parents’ groups worry that kids will get hurt, so they’ve pressured the toy companies not to put them on the market,” and, We got our hands on some“.  When the Back To The Future box set finally came out on DVD, he was still talking shit.  There’s a clip where he states we got our hands on a couple of these hover boards after toy companies were banned from producing them“. Wocka Wocka, that’s fucking hilarious asshole.  This was a bigger scam than replacing Claudia Wells with Elizabeth Shue.  I guess it’s funny now, but it sure wasn’t funny then.

Of course, everybody in school “knew someone” whose cousin’s friend had one.  Unfortunately, the Hoverboard is still just an idea and all that we have are our theories and high hopes.  The company Hovertech, formerly known as Space Magnets, experimented with ferrofluid force fields.  Their hopes were to ionize a column of air interacting with a magnetic fluid, in turn, forming a bubble which the board could rest on.  The technology was never perfected, as ferrofluid stuck to the sides of it’s casing when activated.  Another idea used Geomagnetics (the act of repelling against the Earth’s magnetic field) but there have been no significant advances in completing a working device using this method.  These are only 2 of the many possible theories out there.

Future Horizons Inc. , however, did build an operating hoverboard, but they are quite different than the Back to the Future boards.  They actually have a website where you can purchase construction plans available for anyone who’s interested in building their own.  Their Hoverboards use hovercraft technology to lift a 200 lb + rider 1 whole amazing inch above the ground.  A 6 horsepower 4-stroke gasoline engine spins a propeller to force air under the craft.  A flexible skirt acts like an airbag to help trap air under the board and increase efficiency.  This monstrocity is 5ft. long and 2ft wide and has a handheld remote which is used for steering and speed control.  It can also be operated on almost any terrain.  It’s no Pitbull, but it’s pretty cool and worth checking out.  They even sell plans for their version of a jet pack modeled after technology used by the 1950s U.S. Military.

Austrailia’s Arbortech also  created a more hovercraft-style board, called an Airboard.  Their board is circular, about 150lbs, 5 ft in diameter and can go about 15mph.  Like the Future Horizons board, it also runs on gasoline, but works from a completely different concept.  “Jiminy Christmas, this sure looks like oodles of fun and they are sure to make you the coolest looking kid around town.  Chicks love ’em!.  These are at least as cool as the segway.

I couldn’t even begin to list all the people who have put so much time and effort into this idea and, if you’re one of them, I salute you.  I may not be an engineer or physics major, but we all play our roles in the process.  I am merely a hopeful spectator, but we must keep this dream alive, so that it may manifest one day, hopefully before we’re too old to ride them.  We WILL hover on boards; it is our destiny.