Back to the Future with Marty McFly (circa 1989) as seen on Kickstarter (2014)
This cool device was imagined by Californians Jill and Greg Henderson in 2008 as they envisioned a lift technology to help save buildings from earthquakes, protect antiques, and other applications. But the Hendo fundraising for the hoverboard was Kickstarter success story ($450,000 raised). Hendo’s 60 pound prototype with de-toothed sawblades was launched on May 12, 2013 on their kitchen table. The Hendo1 (pictured ) hovered for just 15 minutes barely one inch above conductive material (originally copper) and just ten were made to order. But it made it into Time’s list of the 25 Best Inventions of 2014.
Picture Credit: HendoHover
Greg explains, “At an altruistic level, MFA (Patent No: US 9,126,487 B2) has the ability to change the way we think about the way communities are designed and built—from family homes to hospital rooms and more. In other words, build structures in such a way that, with the flip of a switch, they can literally be lifted out of harm’s way, so that the potential ravages of earthquakes and floods will no longer hold sway over the inhabitants and occupants.”
Wired got to try out version 2.0 in March 2016 and it looks clunky but the key is the Hover Engines. The fun hoverboad is at the center of the Entertainment and Recreation Division at Arx Pax “With MFA, Arx Pax is able to cross the last barrier in the Virtual Reality world by synchronizing hover technology with the virtual experience for total immersion” and so the company is developing HoverParks but also developing HoverKarts (think bumper cars) and HoverLuges. So adrenaline junkies will have a lot to look forward to in the virtual reality field with these products and experiences. Arx Pax is certainly dedicated to educating businesses (especially developers) about MFA and in licensing.
“To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” From the United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 – Patent Clause
But the real story behind Arx Pax is all about protecting communities from natural disasters by employing structural isolation, as Greg is an architect and has collaborated with UC Berkeley’s ShakeAlert software (cool video here) on the SAFE Building System(SAFE Building System US Patents: 8,777,519; 9,103,118; 9,398,878. Multiple patents pending). But, MFA is also about industrial automation which employs hover technology which may allow for unprecedented production flexibility and access to materials, and thus material storage savings.
Picture Credit: Arx Pax Industrial Automation
Hyperloop or Hovering Mass Transportation systems employ lifting efficiencies which achieving 40 watts per kilogram (or better), yielding energy savings of friction-less motion that are significant. In addition, the simple passive hover surface significantly reduces the cost of infrastructure as compared to older MagLev technologies. The Hover Engines noted above are built into a SpaceX Hyperloop competition earlier in 2016 at Texas A&M University with an update here about magnetic levitation at the University of Cincinnati last week.
Picture Credit: Arx Pax Hyperloop
So there are some very interesting technologies at the heart of some “gizmos” and Greg Henderson should be lauded for inventing MFA which harnesses “eddy currents” to create a resistance force. Other applications envisioned include:
- Hovering robots that can clean and sterilize key areas of sensitive facilities like hospitals,
- Industrial tools such as fork lifts incorporating MFA Technology for a safer and more efficient workplace, and
- A magnetic tractor beam through a partnership with NASA will be used for satellite positioning (or maybe shuttle craft like in Star Trek)
Picture Credit: Arx Pax