In the movies, hoverboards float thanks to special effects. But in real life, it takes teamwork and tenacity, the founders of Hendo Hoverboards told Not Impossible Now.
Hendo Hoverboards lit up social media when it launched its Kickstarter campaign two weeks ago. And rightly so. Hoverboards are the stuff of dreams and movie magic. You can’t read a story about the Hendo Hoverboard that doesn't reference the famous scene from “Back to the Future Part II.”
Even though you can’t zoom everywhere like Marty McFly does in the movie (the Hendo Hoverboard only floats on a conductive surface like copper sheeting), the enthusiasm for the hoverboard has been massive, which has generated more than $423,000 in pledges on its Kickstarter page so far.
Who’s behind the hoverboard hype? One incredibly humble and hard-working couple. While Greg and Jill Henderson seem thrilled about the attention the Hendo Hoverboard has been getting, they’re even more eager to praise the team that made it happen. And they’re excited to talk about the other possibilities their hovering technology can offer, including saving property from earthquake damage.
Not Impossible Now spoke with Greg and Jill, who offered words of advice to young people with big dreams in the science and technology field. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)
NIN: Hendo Hoverboards generated a lot of excitement on social media after the Kickstarter campaign launched. What’s your reaction so far to the buzz?
Greg Henderson: It’s been amazing. Tapping into people’s dreams is a big responsibility.
Jill Henderson: The enthusiasm, the excitement since we launched has just been an incredible momentum for us.
For people who somehow haven’t heard about the Hendo Hoverboard yet, can you explain how it works?
Greg: Essentially, our hover engines generate a magnetic field and in that generation process through something called Lenz’s law we create a secondary magnetic field in the conductive surface that the hoverboard rides on. And that’s like putting two like poles of two different magnets together. Two north poles or two south poles repel one another.
You’re selling a white box to developers, so they can create other applications and uses for your hovering technology. What do you hope they’ll come up with?
Greg: The whole idea of Not Impossible Now is a perfect fit, because we are poised to disrupt a lot of existing markets. There’s the obvious ones like transportation. Imagine future vehicles that have all the freedom of a car and the efficiency of a train, where personal vehicles can share infrastructure with mass transportation. Imagine factory automation where we can work more efficiently to move and organize stuff. You could free up critical space on factory floors.
There was a Napa earthquake recently, and our engineer pointed out that there were millions and millions of dollars of loss to the wine industry. Huge amounts of wine destroyed in the earthquake. Imagine if those racks were on hover engines that were activated by the primary wave of an earthquake or an early warning device on the fault. All that wine could have been hovered out of harm’s way and saved from the earthquake. And that’s one of the applications in the structural realm.
So we’ve talked about transportation, we’ve talked about industry, we’ve talked about structural. And then there’s entertainment, and oh my gosh, we can do so much in entertainment. Jill and I are really excited about the development of a hover luge, where it doesn’t take the skill of a hoverboard ride. You can just sit back, hang on and enjoy a high-speed, smooth and safe experience that nothing else can deliver.
Mere weeks ago, you could only see a hoverboard by watching a Michael J. Fox movie from 1989. How were you able to persist in putting a working prototype together?
Greg: It really is a team effort, because it really couldn’t have happened at any other time or place. We are so lucky today to be able to exchange information on this thing we call the Internet. We are so lucky to live in an environment where we’re not worried about our physical safety day-to-day. And I, in particular, am so lucky to be supported and backed by people who really understand and allow people to pursue their dreams.
And what I’m getting to is this all couldn’t have happened without Jill. She is very modest. She has ten years of marketing at Apple, and she won’t ever say that, so I have to say it for her. But this is absolutely a team effort, and it’s not just me and Jill, either. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants. There are a lot of scientists who have done some amazing work.
Jill: And we have an amazing and dynamic team.
Greg: Absolutely. It’s a great collection of people who aren’t afraid to dream and wonder. And that’s what we really want to do is inspire co-creation everywhere. Everywhere. We’re getting calls and contacts from Australia, South America and Europe and Asia. People are really excited. We had a 15-year-old kid who just thinks differently. I responded personally to an email he wrote, and we’re talking back-and-forth. This kid is offering some really valuable insights into the technology and where we can go. And that’s what we’re looking for.
Jill: Yes, I worked at Apple and that was a magical, magical time in my life. But being a mom of two, that’s my most important thing. And making sure I can keep the team healthy, thriving and happy, so that they can be productive is my main goal, because we are as successful as the people that we surround ourselves with.
I’m just curious, since you mentioned your children, have you let them ride on the Hendo Hoverboard yet?
Jill: We have a 13 ½ year-old daughter and almost 17-year-old son, and they have been on this journey. And as teenagers will be, they are super excited, but yet they’re kind of over it because they’ve lived with it day in and day out with different prototypes. My son said, “Finally, we can talk about it.”
That’s funny how your children seem over it, because every teenager in the world would love to ride the hoverboard right now.
Jill: To be sure I have clarity on that, they have not been able to ride the latest. They have to stand in line now. So they’re like, “Now you’ve got the real cool one.” They were on the first few prototypes.
What advice do you have for young people who are interested in science and technology and they want to make the unreal real?
Greg: Number one, follow your heart. If you don’t think you can, you never will. Find someone who understands you. They don’t have to understand your idea, but if they understand you and they can support you that’s what makes things possible.
Again, I will sincerely say this wouldn’t have been possible without Jill’s understanding and support. We talked to five patent attorneys. Five patent attorneys to finally find the guy who understood what the heck I was talking about. They ranged in reactions from you’re wasting my time to just plain not getting it. Then finally, with Jill’s support, we found a guy who was a rocket scientist who was able to understand what we were talking about.
Jill: You have to surround yourself with people who believe in the impossible turning possible. There’s a big difference between people who are half empty versus people who just want to keep trying and have that tenacity.
Greg: Because we figured out a whole lot of ways not to hover! (Laughter.)
Learn more about Hendo Hoverboards at their Kickstarter page and watch the YouTube video below to see the hoverboard in action.
Top photo courtesy of Sterling Communications
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