Can Hover Technology Protect Us From Natural Disasters?

The husband and wife team behind Hendo Hover, the world’s first hoverboard, are now working on technology to make hovering buildings a reality.

In 2014 Jill and Greg Henderson of Arx Pax developed Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA™), the electromagnetic technology that can make objects hover. While making things levitate is not a new invention, Arx Pax was able to develop a cheaper and more efficient version. Instead of expensive sensors, MFA™ uses a non-ferromagnetic surfaces (e.g. aluminium or copper).

As CEO and co-founder of Arx Pax Greg Henderson explained to line//shape//space, the hoverboard uses electromagnetic energy with two downward-firing ‘hover engines’ creating the opposite magnetic field, resulting in the object able to levitate itself off the ground.

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Arx Pax were able to develop a real hoverboard with professional skateboarder Tony Hawk testing the equipment.

Using the same technology as Hendo Hover, Arx Pax and the Hendersons are looking to exploit MFA™ for more serious and potentially life-saving applications.

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“As an architect, I have an obligation to protect people and property from natural disasters,” Henderson said.

“We’ve had people reaching out to us from the transportation industry, from entertainment, recreation, from education, from seismic isolation. It’s difficult to comprehend how the rules change when you no longer have to touch the ground.”

Arx Pax are now attempting to integrate its MFA™ technology with the ShakeAlert earthquake early-warning software, in the hopes of decoupling buildings from the ground to provide real protection against floods, earthquakes or sea-level rises.

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Types of facilities and buildings that could be protected with MFA and ShakeAlert technology

“The ShakeAlert program aligns well with our long-term vision,” Henderson said.

“Weaving ShakeAlert into our MFA seismic isolation solution provides a valuable new tool to architects, engineers, and developers who are looking for a better way to build in areas affected by earthquakes. Our goal is to eliminate structural movement by pinpointing the exact time an object or building’s ‘landing gear’ should retract and activate the hover engines.”

The implications for this technology are vast – from protecting fragile merchandise in storage to eliminating human need for cleaning and clearing dangerous environments in medical and high-tech industries.

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Images from Greg Henderson’s patented foundation system. (US 8777519 B1)

“Once you join MFA technology to the Internet of Things (IoT), the possibilities are expansive,” he said.

“With the Internet of Things systems have the intelligence to move together for any given point in time, so points A and B can change as well. Imagine a factory or warehouse floor with IoT and hover technology. It now becomes a ‘smart landscape’ with the capability to respond to space and time by continually reconfiguring in order to provide the best solution possible not otherwise available today.”

“We are looking at the problems industry and humankind have faced for an entire history and approaching solutions differently. All of a sudden, if you don’t need to touch the earth, all sorts of things are possible.”

Images courtesy of Arx Pax, Hendo via Kickstarter.

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