Ready to skateboard on a cushion of air?
Your knees quiver while perched on a 90-pound slice of copper board. Floating above a pillow of air, the board 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. That's 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. Maybe it could hold buildings above earthquakes as the ground shakes below.
But for now, it's all about fun.
"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 minute. Then it needs recharging. It can only operate over metal surfaces. And it's expensive, $10,000.
Greg and Jill Henderson are co-founders of the firm Arx Pax. Their company developed the Hendo Hoverboard. Now they envision much more.
Sketches of hoverboard parks are already pinned to the walls. The parks would be similar to skateboard parks. People could rent boards and ride up and down ramps.
Here's how it works: four dinner plate-sized hover engines are on the bottom of the board to create a magnetic field. That induces a secondary magnetic field in a conductive surface. In this case that surface is copper, although aluminum even under concrete works as well. Magnetic levitation trains in Asia work on similar principles.
Hoverboards captured public interest in the "Back to the Future" movies. In one film, character Marty McFly hopped on one to escape attackers.
Since then, there have been some real attempts. The current prototype was designed in part by surfboard shaper Bob Pearson. It is broader and wider than a typical skateboard. It's also fairly slow.
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."