Back to the Future fans, rejoice!
In recognition of October 21st, 2015, aka the day Marty McFly touched down in the cult classic Back to the Future II, a real live hoverboard is currently in the works.
Robert Bigler, founder of Hoverboard Technologies, has developed and introduced a skateboard-like contraption that (almost) hovers. Yep; although it runs on a large-ish motorized wheel in the middle of the board, the gadget gives the distinct feel that the lucky person riding it is, in fact, hovering.
Unlike the heavily magnetized Hendo Hoverboard and the liquid-nitrogen-guzzling board from Lexus which actually do hover, Bigler’s invention doesn’t require a special track, and can be sold to the general public. However, it ain’t cheap. Although Bigler plans to introduce less expensive models if the demand exists (so far it’s been sold to over 40 backers), the initial device will cost $4000.
“Really our magic is in making it a personal super performance vehicle. Will we try to make it less expensive someday? Yes,” Bigler stated.
“We’re working on a more modest mid-range and even lower-range version, but it’s never going to be ‘cheap.’ This isn’t a toy.”
The ‘magic’ board is gyro-stabilized to keep you upright, and feels similar to snowboarding or surfing. The sensation of ‘hovering’ is generated by the lack of wheels at the front or back. Leaning forward speeds it up, leaning back decelerates, and you steer it from the waist (rather than changing your weight distribution on the board itself). The flashy LEDs give it a futuristic feel, and it has a top speed of 20 miles per hour. Conveniently, it can travel up to 12 miles before needing a recharge.
However, not only is this hoverboard decidedly heavy at 20-25 pounds, it’s also reportedly quite difficult to ride. Experienced skateboarder and snowboarder Josh Constine gave it a go, and found it a challenging skill to master.
“This is by far the toughest personal electric vehicle I’ve tried,” Constine stated. “Expect a lot of frustration at first, similar to learning to snowboard. Even then I’m not sure you’d want to commute in traffic on this thing.”
“By the end I could skittishly go in a straight line and just barely make soft turns without falling off. That’s a pretty steep learning curve considering I own a Boosted Board electric skateboard, have longboarded for 12 years, can snowboard, and can stand up on a surfboard.”
Although Back to the Future II may have been a little too ambitious in its prediction of a genuine, mainstream, marketable hoverboard for 2015, there is also a lot of stuff it actually had correct. Flat-screen TVs are definitely a thing, as is video conference calling in the form of Skype, Face Time, Oovoo, Snap Chat, and a variety of video real-time conference programs.
Also, in true BTTF style, bio-metric identification is becoming increasingly widespread. Aside from logging into iPhones and other devices, many people use their thumbprints to sign into work every day. Everything nowadays seems to be in 3D, and although drones may not be walking our dogs yet, they are definitely becoming more prominent on the consumer market.
Holographic displays are popping up everywhere you look, and most importantly, Pepsi is actually releasing a limited edition ‘Pepsi Perfect’; identical to the one ordered by Marty McFly in the movie.
Needless to say, flying cars and facial rejuvenation clinics haven’t quite made it to 2015. Neither have self-lacing shoes, although Nike is actually trying to develop a pair. And funnily enough, fax machines didn’t become the phenomenon the movie prophesied, replaced by a little thing called the Internet.
However, the greatest tragedy of all predictions left unfulfilled is the distinct lack of dehydrated microwaveable pizzas (now that really would have been something). But who knows? Maybe in a couple of decades we will have actual hoverboards, and flying cars, and everything else we looked forward to 30 years ago when Back to the Future II was released. But until that time, let’s enjoy what we do have and eagerly anticipate whatever the future may hold.
Although I’d still really like that dehydrated pizza…
Images via betanews.com and eyeofthefish.org