Many are the debates that rage around the future of science and technology, concerning thorny ethical dilemmas and seemingly intractable issues of public policy. But if there's one thing everybody can agree on, it's this: We all strive for a world where people commute on electromagnetic hoverboards.

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Good news on that front this week: A small Silicon Valley startup company announced that it's developed a working hoverboard prototype, ramped up and ready to go. Called the Hendo, the hoverboard uses magnetic field architecture (MFA) to elevate the skateboard-sized platform - with or without rider - about an inch above a copper-surfaced half-pipe.

Check out the video below and you'll see that the Hendo is for real, as far as it goes. The device is still a long way from Marty McFly's free-range futuristic hoverboard in Back to the Future Part II. But it does indeed move like a skateboard on the half-pipe, responding to the rider's movements and gliding back and forth.

In fact, the Hendo hoverboard is really more of a proof-of-concept demonstration for more ambitious plans using the MFA technology. In the demo video, Arx Pax founder and inventor Greg Henderson says his Hendo Hover Engine is highly scalable, and could be used to enable moving platforms with payloads of virtually any size or weight.

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With the launch of its Kickstarter campaign this week, Arx Pax is hoping to raise $250,000 by selling engine developer kits to other inventors. Those who invest will hopefully speed up development by going in different directions with the Hover Engine technology, Henderson says.

"You no longer need to be a scientist in a lab to be a part of building the future," Henderson says. "By putting this technology in your hands, who knows what we can develop together. The wheel may finally have some competition."

Anyone steely enough to crowdsource an alternative to the wheel must be onto something, right?

Credit: Arx Pax

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