And I’m not talking about the explosive two-wheeled gadgets that are banned from international airports.

Canadian entrepreneur Philippe Maalouf has always been frustrated with the misnomer: “I’m watching all these news reports saying ‘hoverboard’ with a straight face- and it’s not… I was like, are people aware that this board is not even hovering? It’s on wheels!”

Maalouf is the CEO of Omni Hoverboards and leads a small research and development team devoted to creating a hoverboard that actually hovers above the ground using tiny propellers.

So far, Omni Hoverboards has been remarkably successful. Last summer, it released a prototype that blew away previous Guinness world records by flying 905 feet over the surface of a lake. I definitely recommend checking out the video; Maalouf himself rides the board slowly and surely across the lake’s surface¬†amid a mist of water kicked up by the propellers.

“You feel like you’re riding on the back of a dragon,” described Maalouf. Or rather, “You feel like it’s you who’s flying. And that’s new. That’s the innovation.”

Maalouf has big goals for his board, which should hit the markets in 2017 and set the buyer back somewhere between $25,000 to $50,000.

hoverboard“Someday, maybe you could commute to work with one of these things,” Maalouf speculated. “But I think regulation might prevent that.” He admits it’s more likely that the boards would be developed for recreation purposes, similar to the way ATVs are used. He also said they might be useful to inspect bridges or as FEMA rescue vehicles.

One of the biggest challenges for Omni Hoverboards has been to figure out how to power a machine that must remain extremely light and must run for long enough for the board to be fun and useful. Maalouf and his team have deduced that battery systems are too heavy for a flying vehicle, opting instead for gasoline-powered engines.

Omni Hoverboards isn’t the only team making strides in hoverboard development. The aerospace firm Arca has developed a rideable floating rectangle that uses 36 fans to generate 272 horsepower, allowing for a hover time of up to 6 minutes. Pretty impressive, but also bear in mind that the ArcaBoard needs six hours to recharge. It also costs $19,000, plus $4,500 extra.

hendo hoverboardThen there’s the Silicon Valley-based Arx Pax, co-founded by Greg Henderson. Arx Pax sold 10 Hendo Hoverboards on Kickstarter for $10,000 each in 24 hours before moving on to bigger and better hovercrafts; Henderson wants to use the technology behind the successful Hendo to create large, fast and efficient transportation systems.

Henderson’s hovercrafts use what Arx Pax calls Magnetic Field Architecture, which involves vehicles with “hover engines” that create a magnetic field and electric currents in such way that allows the vehicle (any passengers within) to float above conductive surfaces. Because there is no friction involved in floating transportation, this kind of travel could theoretically be faster and more fuel efficient.

“Our technology can share the same infrastructure… A single person, or a train with a thousand people could take advantage of this incredibly efficient low-cost new maglev technology.”

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