Kickstarter Campaign for 'World's First Real Hoverboard' Launches Today

While the hoverboard's actual capabilities are limited, the project is intended to get people interested in applications for hover technology that extend beyond the board.

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By Laura Entis

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A Kickstarter campaign for Hendo Hoverboards – advertised as the "world's first REAL hoverboard" – kicked off on the crowdfunding platform this morning.

While the project – which aims to raise $250,000 within the next 54 days – isn't an Internet prank, the product is very much still a prototype instead of, say, a replica of Marty McFly's tripped out multicolored board.

While the Hendo board indeed hovers, it only does so one inch above the ground, and only if the ground in question is a conductive surface. Other drawbacks: the battery lasts a mere seven minutes and there are currently only 10 prototypes, each priced at $10,000 on Kickstarter.

Related: This Viral Hoverboard Video Looks Ridiculously Awesome -- Yet Sadly Fake

So…we won't be hovering to work anytime soon.

According to Greg and Jill Henderson, the couple behind the Kickstarter campaign, the hoverboard project is really just a brilliant marketing play. "That's why we picked the hoverboard: to capture that attention," Greg Henderson told The New York Times. "If one in 10 people realize there is another use for this stuff, that would be a great success."

Ultimately, the couple wants to draw peoples' attention to hovering technology's potential applications beyond the board, in industries "that range from warehouse operations, to building foundation improvements, to novel methods of electromechanical fluid separation," they write on the project's Kickstarter page. What if, they ask, the same technology that makes their prototype levitate could be harnessed to do vastly more useful things, including saving entire buildings from earthquake damage by elevating them above the ground? If that seems pretty far out (OK, it definitely does), the Hendersons also have ideas for more contained applications, such as using electromagnets to slightly elevate individual train cars, making them easier to move around train yards.

Related: U.S. Army Developing a Real Live 'Iron Man' Suit

In this lets-make-more-things-hover vein, backers who pledge $299 toward the project will receive a developer's kit, enabling them to build their own hovering contraptions.

"Our goal is inspiring co-creation with the entire community of tinkerers and makers and outside thinkers," Greg Henderson told The Verge. "I guarantee one thing: we're going to be surprised at the results. They'll come up with all kinds of uses: planes, trains, automobiles, factory automation. Those are some of the easy ones."

For a $100 pledge, 250 backers will receive a five-minute hoverboard ride at the metal-lined hoverpark the couple has built in Silicon Valley. Shell out $1,000, and you'll receive a full hour on the board, complete with personal instruction from a 'hoverboard instructor.'

Which is as close to Marty McFly as you're going to get. For now, at least.

Related: Publicity Stunt Du Jour: Spend the Night at IKEA Thanks to Airbnb

Check out a video of the hoverboard in action below.

Laura Entis
Laura Entis is a reporter for Fortune.com's Venture section.

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