Arx Pax, the company behind the Hendo hoverboard that we rode last year, has just announced that it will unveil the newest version next week on October 21st. That's right, the company is announcing a hoverboard on the immensely hyped, much brand-ticipated geek holiday: Back to the Future Day.
Now, Arx Pax is the first to admit that the original Hendo hoverboard wasn't meant to be a commercial product. It was supposed to be a proof of concept for the company's unique "magnetic field architecture" (MFA) technology, as well an advertisement for that technology. The plan worked. The company raised twice its Kickstarter goal of $250,000, and was recently issued three patents for its hover engine, propulsion and control systems, and the hoverboard itself. Recently, Arx Pax announced some more real world results: SpaceX will allow teams to use the newly-patented MFA technology in the company's Hyperloop competition, and NASA wants to use it to move micro-satellites in space.
One of the rewards of that Kickstarter campaign — the maximum $10,00 level, to be exact — was supposed to net you a hoverboard of your own, and that's exactly where this new Hendo 2.0 model is going. "This is us making good on our promise to deliver the hover boards for our Kickstarter backers," CEO Greg Henderson tells The Verge. "We’re really excited to offer an improved design that is much more intuitive."
What's better than a hoverboard? A better hoverboard
That means the new board comes with a number of improvements: better battery life, USB connectivity, stronger hover performance with better traction and control (the first version could basically only go in one direction at a time), a wireless kill switch for safety, and the company also quieted down the wicked whine that the first version emitted. Perhaps most importantly, though, the new board looks less like a slab of plastic and much more like a skateboard. That's not just a cosmetic improvement, but also a practical one; the first version was so big and unruly that Henderson says it "gave people an opportunity to stand in the wrong place."
Some of these changes are thanks to Tony Hawk, who famously rode the Hendo hoverboard just a few months after trolling the internet with HUVr, a fake hoverboard project he helped go viral with Funny Or Die. ("We invited Tony to come and ride our next prototype, and he had a lot of very frank input for us," Henderson jokes.) And while spending $10,000 on a mythical hoverboard that you've never seen sounds silly, Henderson says the interest in that particular donation level came not from individuals, but from businesses.
"There will be hoverboard parks springing up around the world in the very near future."
"A couple of [the Kickstarter backers] are actually interested in starting hoverboard businesses," he says, adding that entrepreneurs from New Zealand and the United Kingdom will be some of the lucky recipients of the new board. "It’s very likely that there will be hoverboard parks springing up around the world in the very near future," Henderson says. Those businesses will only get the board, however, and not the copper platform that is required to work. But Henderson says the company will provide these backers with plans for small half- or quarter-pipe ramps based on designs by Hawk's personal ramp builder.
We'll have to wait and see what those companies — or even Arx Pax, for that matter — wind up doing with the new board until after its unveiling. What's certain is Henderson's belief in his company's core technology, and the possibilities it can create. "Whether we’re talking about hoverboards, or hover luge, or hover bumper cars, or the concept of Formula H [a hover racing series], it all comes down to our hover engine," he says. "We’re perfecting the hover engine for use not just in entertainment, but for industrial automation, transportation, structural isolation, and any other things it can do."
Verge Video: Riding the Hendo Hoverboard