Seemingly out of nowhere, a major promotional campaign for a "real" hoverboard known as HUVr has launched online today. It all began with a pair of bizarre video clips featuring testimonials from celebrities including Tony Hawk, Moby, and Back to the Future's own Christopher Lloyd. One clip shows Lloyd delivering the HUVr to Hawk, followed by demonstrations that are "completely real" — at least if you believe whoever is behind the mysterious PR push. They're calling themselves HUVr Corp and claim to have a staff filled with "materials science, electricity & magnetism experts who've solved an important part of one of science's mysteries: the key to antigravity."
Another video attempts to explain how this miraculous feat of technology actually works. Along with the YouTube videos, HUVr has also popped up across social media with accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Obviously the product we're seeing here is bogus — despite some convincing video trickery. We've thus far been unable to find any record of such a company existing or any trademarks filed for HUVr. But we're still left scratching our heads when it comes to what this viral stunt is actually seeking to promote.
The HUVr website shows a "destination time" of December 2014, suggesting we may be in for a bit of a wait before all is revealed. Is it all a carefully crafted teaser for Tony Hawk's upcoming mobile game? This seems like a very elaborate production if the end goal is boosting App Store sales. Perhaps an Oculus Rift-style virtual reality title (HUVr) could be on the way. Or is this viral campaign meant to stir up early anticipation for another Back to the Future film? Maybe those self-lacing Nike shoes? A December unveiling would make sense ahead of wider availability in 2015. There are many questions and few answers at this point. Looking up the website's registration data offers no hints, and an email from the company — sent from a Gmail account — only said HUVr Corp would respond to us with more details in the future.
Update: In the face of mounting evidence that the hoverboard is fake (you can see what appears to be a wire harness in this screencap), HUVr has published a FAQ on Facebook which insists that the gadget is totally, completely real. The company claims the board will be affordable and that it hopes to ship the product in December 2014, and will demonstrate just how real the technology is in a series of live events in major US cities.
In the meanwhile, however, Andy Baio has discovered that one of the team leaders, a supposed MIT researcher, is none other than actor Nelson Cheng, who apparently studied economics at Princeton instead. And we traced back the Twitter stream to discover that at least part of the HUVr campaign is a production of San Francisco-based Spring Studio — it appears that HUVr originally tweeted a link to its client page there instead of to the actual site, and was unable to completely cover up the mishap.
Update 2: Mashable appears to have proof that comedy video website Funny or Die is behind the alleged hoverboard company. According to the online portfolio of costume designer Lauren Beidenharn, which has since been edited, she worked on the "HUVR BOARDS" commercial for Funny or Die last November. That seems to fit with the other facts we know. Spring Studio built Funny or Die's revamped website, and actor Nelson Cheng had previously appeared in Funny or Die videos. None have yet replied to our requests for comment.
Update 3: Despite mounting evidence that this viral sensation is the work of Funny or Die, HUVr's "creators" continue to insist that it's not fake and no one is being fooled. In a post on Facebook today, HUVr Tech claims that actor Nelson Cheng is simply the company's spokesman — despite the fact that he appears alongside other "employees" on the HUVr website. The Facebook post also insists, "This is not a promotional device for anything besides The HUVr!" That would seem to dismiss earlier theories that this is all a publicity stunt for a Tony Hawk mobile game or an upcoming pair of Nike shoes.
Update 4: Funny or Die has claimed the video as its own, and admitted that it was a big hoax.