So, it's a year to go, to the day (Oct. 21, 2015), when Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrive in the future in Back to the Future II. The Chicago Cubs are nowhere near World Series contention. How's that hoverboard coming?
It's not commercially available, and it can only ride on a specialized copper floor, but The Verge's Josh Lowensohn just rode one. It's called a Hendo, and it's not necessarily like maglev trains, but its "hover engines" do involve electromagnetism.
Lowensohn said his Hendo hoverboard was only "a few centimeters" off of the surface, but it was such a frictionless experience that shifting his weight to keep his balance would send him turning and drifting in a different direction. There was a modest half-pipe in the test facility which he declined to try.
"Was it fun? Unequivocally. Pushing off for the first time, and even later runs was a thrill. For the first time ever, I felt like it was OK for some electronic device to have a blue glowing light on it. It's just too bad there wasn't more space to ride on. The small demo area actually made it more difficult to get momentum, and stabilize myself as I glided gently into the waiting arms of my spotting team."
This hoverboard "costs" $10,000, though that's only because $10,000 is the maximum donation that Kickstarter can take (the company has a fundraiser going right now, with a goal of $250,000.) Ultimately, the units are expected to come down in cost, but there's no real time frame for when or what people will really be able to do with them when they do arrive, given the need for the specialized surface.
So what's the big whoop? Creator Greg Henderson imagines that the technology could ultimately be the kind of thing that protects buildings from floods or earthquakes by simply lifting them up. Getting the technology to scale up to lifting things that large that far off the ground, with stability, will take a lot of work, but Henderson says it's at least theoretically possible.
Unlike the Cubs winning the World Series anytime soon.