Actually, you probably won’t want a Back to the Future-style hoverboard
A hoverboard, thankfully not exploding or tossing you to the concrete mercilessly.
Trust us: you don’t really want a real life hoverboard — at least not in the first few iterations of the future tech.
Sure, you’ve probably been impatiently waiting for the day you’d finally be able to zoom above the pavement from the moment you saw Marty McFly defy the laws of gravity in Back to the Future Part II — but there’s more than just a crew of angry bullies that could make the practice IRL a bad and dangerous idea.
Your dream hoverboard would probably be a floating injury machine at first, with potentially sketchy internals, a super-high price tag, and a high level of skill needed just to take it for a spin.
Those obnoxious electric scooters that were all the rage a few years back serve as a good example of why actual hoverboards could be problematic. The widely publicized battery issues that have popped up in multiple brands’ devices have all but killed the fad.
Future hoverboards wouldn’t likely depend on dodgy lithium-ion batteries to work — but finding a way to power a lightweight levitation board on a large production scale is a huge hurdle to clear, which might not be perfected in the first few attempts.
Then there’s the matter of actually making the boards actually, you know, hover. Two of the most impressive examples of real life hoverboards we’ve seen, from Hendo and Lexus, both depend on magnetic tech to work, which limits their use to specialized surfaces with the right magnetic field. But those specialized surfaces aren’t exactly common — so your hoverboard would be, for the most part, useless.
Still, let’s think further out. Once there’s actually some way to actually apply anti-gravity tech on surfaces everywhere, consider the insanely steep learning curve: If you’re literally hovering, by definition there’s no friction, which means you’ll need to get used to a completely different way to steer. No friction also means there’s no ground to slow you down, meaning speed can get out of control very fast. There’s no way even your first few rides would be smooth sailing like that flashy Funny or Die hoax with Tony Hawk and Christopher Lloyd.
This is a professional skateboarder eating pavement on a hoverboard run on Lexus’ hyped-up promo model. While much of his time around the specially magnetized skatepark was smooth, even he fell down plenty.
Do you really think you’d be able to handle that sweet levitating action with as much grace? Nope.
Your runs would look a little bit more like this:
And your skill level would only be part of the concern: How could you be sure the board, untethered to the stable ground below, wouldn’t zoom off on its own accord when you bail? That’s a pretty expensive, questionably stable system to thrash like any old skateboard.
These are all questions and concerns that could very well be answered in the future by some innovative company filled with hoverboard-loving die-hards — but from the progress we’ve seen on the tech so far, that future is most likely long way off. You’re better off putting those dreams to rest, at least for now.
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