130 years ago there lived a man named Nikola Tesla. Once nearly forgotten after being relegated to the shadows by that most maleficent and light-fingered of American inventors, Thomas Edison, Tesla has seen a resurgence in the last few years. This is largely thanks to the popular electric car company of the same name, but also thanks to the work of dedicated scholars trying to spread the word of this great man.
So why are we talking about a 6’6” dead and quite possibly slightly mad inventor? Because in 1891 Nikola Tesla invented the first hover technology. Pretty amazing right? Tesla built electromagnetic field-and-drive engines. He even provided the guidelines for making an actual hovercraft.
Today, we have our own madcap inventors working on their own hoverboard. All over the world, there are people working on perfecting hover technology and even building a hovercraft. More specifically, people are trying to make Back to the Future style hoverboards.
But there’s only one company that’s succeeded in building hover engines that work: Hendo Hover. Hendo has been making some waves throughout the tech world, following the release of their new prototype. While this isn’t the first prototype Hendo has released, it is the first that fully functions as a hoverboard (check out legendary skater Tony Hawk testing the new prototype).
While the Hendo Hoverboard is for sale, the cost is rather pricey (about 10 grand!), Hendo has released a small developer’s kit called the Hendo Whitebox. This small, unsurprisingly white, kit contains within it a hover engine identical to the one used in the hoverboard.
Why are we so excited about it? Because we got in on the ground floor with our own kit. We’ve been playing around with it for a few months now and we thought we’d share some of our thoughts on the issue, starting with a description of how it works (although it will be admittedly limited and simplistic in scope).
How it Works
Hendo has developed this technology in conjunction with their parent company Arx Pax and it works using the principle of Electromagnetic repulsion. It’s not technically anti-gravity technology, instead, it works off what is known as Lenz’s Law. Very basically, this means that any change in a current will result in an opposite movement.
This is the basic way in which the Hover technology works. Unfortunately, the technology has some limitations, the biggest of which is that currently, the hoverboard only works while over something that is not magnetic itself (aka nonferromagnetic conductive material). This means it works only over surfaces like copper or aluminum – you know, not pavement.
This is a pretty limiting feature, but it’s beside the point. The Hendo Hoverboard was never truly meant to be the end goal of the Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA). The Hoverboard was meant to demonstrate the power, applicability and effectiveness of the electromagnetic repulsion technology.
So what purpose can hover technology have if it’s so limited? Well, we already have some instances of magnetic fields at work – MagLev Trains being the preeminent example. Of course, there are other examples too – Disney’s California Screamin’ Roller Coaster is another. This fun little ride uses electromagnetic repulsion to hover and accelerate – at whiplash speeds.
Let’s take a look at some of two of the most exciting possibilities for MFA technology, including the original dreams of Arx Pax co-founders Greg and Jill Henderson.
1. Medical Applications
It’s hard to point to a field that has benefited more from technological improvements than the medical profession. From improved surgical tools to VR implementations, Healthcare has grown hand-in-hand with technology. This is just as true here.
Any hospital or healthcare worker will gladly tell you of both the necessity and the difficulties of creating a sterile environment. However, sterility is hard to achieve when walking can contaminate a room. MFA tech can help elevate robotic cleaners off the ground – creating a 100% sterile environment. Of course, this means we need to build better robots!
One of the stated dreams of the Arx Pax crew is to have their MFA engines designed into buildings in the near future. Now, I bet you’re wondering “Why?” It seems like an expensive fashion statement, right?
In actuality, the reason behind this is quite ingenious and may eventually save millions of lives and billions of dollars.
Part of life in the Golden State are earthquakes. We are one of the most seismically active states in the Union. What does this have to do with hovering buildings? It isolates them from the effects of an earthquake.
Think about it – if buildings were largely unaffected by seismic tremors, the effect of an earthquake would plummet. Fewer people would die and less damage would be caused to a city’s infrastructure.
Right now the field of MFA and other hover technologies is wide open. It’s an industry of what might be possible, and not what is possible. We know now that the technology is out there; now all we need are great ideas on how we can change the world with hover technology.
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