So one of the great iconic visions of the future from our youth has become a reality; specifically Marty McFly’s ‘hover board’ from Back to the Future II.
We all remember seeing it in the film (along with that protruding shark hologram; and now we take 3D cinema for granted) and wondering if it would be real life one day. Well, it’s not often something like that actually comes to pass; we’re still waiting for Blade Runner’s flying cars, Star Trek’s transporter pad, and of course I don’t want to go to my grave without having witnessed lightsabers becoming a reality.
But the hover board is here! At least, to an extent anyway. The Kickstarter campaign for the “Hendo Hoverboard” went viral last week and has achieved its funding goal and more, with over $365,000 currently invested in the experimental product.
Of course, our excitement has to be scaled down a little though; at a projected $10,000 for a board, it isn’t something that’s going to be mass owned or even mass produced. Alas, there won’t be hover-boarders floating about our cities any time soon.
And the prototype, critics point out, doesn’t work by true ‘levitation’ after all, but by utilising existing mag-lev technology on a “micro-scale”. The board can only work over a conducting surface, meaning that unless the average street is laid with copper or some other conductor any time soon, would-be ‘hover-boarders’ will have to live out their fantasies in limited, custom-made locations (which will presumably have the Back to the Future theme music playing on loud-speakers).
In this fast-moving, highly accelerated technological and digital age it’s actually easy to take things for granted and forget how much we have in every day usage that was once considered ‘science fiction’; from Star Trek communicators (mobiles) and sliding doors (yes, sliding doors didn’t always exist, kids – but they did in Gene Roddenberry’s world) to long-distance communication viewscreens (Skype, basically). It’s a little amusing to see how excited so many people have gotten about the Hendo Board as being somehow the height of our technological advancement – you know we have a robot on Mars, right?
But not to mock; and yes, the hover-board is a big deal. Though far less useful than the other things I just mentioned, it seems to just be one of those near-mythical objects that’s been at the top of our lists for ever, and probably precisely because of the movie that seeded it in our then-young minds.
And there is undoubtedly something pleasing about seeing something like the hover-board come to life, even if it’s only in this presently limited fashion. The wonders of science (and science fiction). And shit, maybe I’m not that far off from being able to live out my longstanding Silver Surfer fantasies, after all…