Ready to skateboard on a cushion of air? Arx Pax engineer Shauna Moran demonstrates riding a Hendo Hoverboard. Skateboarding is going airborne this fall with the launch of the first real commercially marketed hoverboard which uses magnetics to float about an inch off the ground (AP photos)
Ready to skateboard on a cushion of air?
Lexile

The more your knees quiver, the more the 90-pound board you're perched on, floating above a pillow of air, seems about to shoot out from under your feet. The sound of the high-pitched engine bounces of the sheet of copper as you swivel and glide your way a few feet forward.

This is hoverboarding.

Skateboarding is going airborne this fall with the launch of the first real commercially marketed hoverboard. It uses magnetics to float about an inch off the ground. The creators believe their technology will someday be used to transport large containers or hold buildings above earthquakes as the ground shakes below. But for now, it's all about fun.

"You can very much tell that it's frictionless so you just smoothly move along. And it's odd because you can move in all directions," said engineer Kyle O'Neil. He is seated on a copper ramp where they test their products while wearing helmets and safety lenses.

But there are some catches. The Hendo currently only works for about 15 minutes before it needs recharging. It can only operate over metal surfaces. And it's expensive, $10,000.

Greg and Jill Henderson, co-founders of the firm Arx Pax, which developed the Hendo Hoverboard, envision much more.

Sketches of hoverboard parks are already pinned to the walls. The parks are where people could rent boards and ride up and down ramps, much like skateboard parks.

"This is not the end, this is just the beginning of where this technology can go," said Greg Henderson, sitting on a sofa in their makeshift labs in the Silicon Valley enclave of Los Gatos. He's definitely thinking big.

"The wheel has served us very, very well, and we're not taking the wheel head on. But there are certain places where this may be more appropriate than the wheel," he says.

Here's how it works: four dinner plate-sized hover engines on the bottom of the board create a magnetic field that induces a secondary magnetic field in a conductive surface. In this case it's copper, although aluminum even under concrete works as well. Magnetic levitation trains, currently operating in Asia, work on similar principles.

Henderson said the board is the most efficient way of communicating what the technology can do.

"When you discover that you can levitate a dynamic load in a stationary position, can you think of anything more exciting than a hoverboard?"

Hoverboards captured public interest in the "Back to the Future" movie trilogy. Character Marty McFly hopped on one to escape attackers.

Since then, there have been some real attempts. The current prototype, designed in part by surfboard shaper Bob Pearson, is broader and wider than a typical skateboard. It's also fairly slow.

But Henderson is delighted with what they've done so far.

"Last month," he said, "the Wikipedia entry for hoverboard said this was a fictional device.

"It doesn't say that anymore."

Critical thinking challenge: Why cant the Hendo work on non-metal surfaces?

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COMMENTS (305)
  • jakes-Eic
    11/18/2014 - 10:40 a.m.

    That is so cool! I hope someday the technology becomes cheap and practical. Without any friction it glides really fast. The hoverboard is a great invention!

  • kadenl-Eic
    11/18/2014 - 10:46 a.m.

    That would be a lot of fun.I would love that cause i am terrible at skateboarding.But when you fall it would hurt like a regular skateboard.

  • damiana-Eic
    11/18/2014 - 10:47 a.m.

    It doesn't work on nonmetal surfaces because of the magnetic field around it. One thing I don't like about it though is that it only works for 15 minutes before it needs to be recharged think about how long it needs to charge and the price is pretty big I mean I know that its a hover board but who would rather do this than the ordinary skateboard?

  • ryan.krushensky68
    11/18/2014 - 11:25 a.m.

    That is really cool how they made that hover board. It's amazingl how one day they might use one of those to carry large objects. I would like to have one, but there are some safety issues. For example' if you go over a jump, you might flip because gravity pulsl you down.

  • alliej-Eic
    11/18/2014 - 11:27 a.m.

    wow! That's awesome, I wish I could do that someday with all my friends and family. I think kids would spend more time outside then inside instead of playing video games inside.

  • gracieb-Eic
    11/18/2014 - 11:35 a.m.

    Wow!! That's pretty cool!!! Technology is getting way better these day's! A skateboard that float's WOW!!!
    10,000 dollars to ride a floating Skateboard.... it's cool but expensive. And I thought that the Iphone 4 was cool!

  • kenny207
    11/18/2014 - 11:58 a.m.

    this is an intresting selection to skateboarders especially because technology came a long way and to have hover boards at a skate park how cool is that, this is all my opinion as a skateboarder myself

    • collin550
      11/18/2014 - 12:14 p.m.

      Nice comment Ken's u love skateboarding don't you Skateboarding's ok but its fun to do tricks I cant do tricks ill fail.? Are u good ?

  • 21BEBROW
    11/18/2014 - 12:01 p.m.

    the thing that would really make it useful is make it in to a car and metal roads then the re would never be an accident because it uses magnetics and magnets cant crash

  • collin550
    11/18/2014 - 12:03 p.m.

    Yes im ready to ride on a cushion of air!!!!! Thats cool i wish i had one of thoughs? wait i have an idea ill just put pillows under my wheels?! :) LoL

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