In 1989, as part of the marketing for Back to the Future II, Robert Zemeckis committed an unforgivable sin when he claimed that the hoverboards in the scenes set in 2015 were real, but had been banned as unsafe by consumer safety groups. No, seriously, he really did. It came as a crushing blow to kids old enough to know how cool a hover board would be, but still too young to see through an obvious joke, that he wasn't telling the truth, and ever since we've long held out hope for the real deal. Hold onto your hats, because that day may soon be upon us.
Over on Mod This, Don Dula is chronicling his attempt to make hoverboard technology a reality. The inspiration comes from an artist named Nils Guadagnin, who managed to design his own working hoverboard for an art installation in 2010. Dula's device works using an electromagnetic kit purchased from a company in the Netherlands. Two magnets are fixed to a surface, with two other magnets affixed at corresponding points to the bottom of the designated hoverboard. A laser stabilization system keeps the magnets in place, so that they hover above one another; the board is a foam mock up, which he says works best with the magnets, and so far, Dula has managed to support 5 pounds.
Don't expect to be jetting around town on your board just yet. Dula's board must remain mostly stationary above the repelling magnets to achieve floatation. Still, one of the surface magnets can be removed, allowing the board to turn, which looks very cool, and that's almost enough to make up for the inability to float up the side of Biff Tannen's car.
Here's a video Dula posted explaining the device.