Somewhere in my brain this morning, an overly excited 10-year-old-self shut down all reason and decided to exist in a world where hoverboards from “Back to Future 2” are real. Even more disturbing was accepting the notion that a baffiling scientific discovery such as anti-gravity was being introduced to the world in a YouTube video featuring Tony Hawk and Christopher Lloyd – not a Noble prizewinning physicist. It’s a world where belief in spoon-feed pop culture, Hollywood and viral videos consume reality.
It started with watching the HUVr YouTube video, a company purporting to have enlisted MIT graduates who unlocked the key to anti-gravity and put it into a technology that enables hoverboards. The video features Emmet “Doc” Brown himself – Christopher Lloyd from the “Back to the Future” franchise pulling up in a DeLorean, then anointing pro-skater Tony Hawk with a sleek looking hoverboard. The high flying fantasy plays out with musician Moby, NFL receiver Terrelle Owens, rapper Schoolboy Q and actress Agnes Bruckner riding the HUVr boards.
It was a glorious moment captivated by a combination of naive belief and having obsessively watched too many movies. Then reality settled back in, sending my 10-year-old-self to a timeout. It was time for some good old fashion fact-checking, but also relying on the Facebook comments of friends to help debunk this. Even more so, this HUVr company had wasted most of my morning and now 3 paragraphs in – it’s turning vengeful.
My fantasy was rattled by Colorado news man and cinephile, Chris Harrop, whose journalistic instincts immediately smelled hoax. Then a barrage of online coverage from film and tech writers.
Russ Fischer on SlashFilm.com wrote: “let’s face it, when someone comes up with the key to anti-gravity the first thing they’ll do with it will probably not be to create a working version of the hoverboard.”
Darrel Etherington on TechCrunch.com wrote: “The tagline is that the ‘Future Has Arrived,’ when in fact it hasn’t. Aside from being a clear (though still technically impressive) fake, the website for this demo and fake company also shows a counter with December 2014 as the projected ‘destination time’ for whatever is going on here.”
There is some noticeable nonsense going on in the video, which will certainly receive a thorough gutting in the video’s comments section. For one, there is the slightest bit of uplift on the shirts of the HUVr riders, indicating the use of wires without a good compositing coverup. Also the “acting” is far from convincing – Christopher Lloyd aside, who seems to be shedding tears of joy towards the video’s end.
This “Proof” video on YouTube from Internet is my only friend – clearly shows a shadow of a wire harness on one of the HUVr riders. The video maker goes on to speculate that this is probably a promo for another “Back to the Future” movie or perhaps a video produced by Nike to promote their self-lacing shoes, also inspired by “Back to the Future 2.” Being that both Universal Pictures and Nike could bankroll a video like this, this is more plausible than it actually being real.
Ryan W. Neal’s investigation for International Business Times dug up some solid debunking: “It seems pretty real until you dive into the legal section of HUVr’s website, which says, “the inclusion of any products or services on this website at a particular time does not imply or warrant that these products or services will be available at any time…HUVr’s website says that the HUVr Board demonstration is a marketing scheme to attract investors, saying that the team and investors are “marketing this exciting consumer product in order to fund ongoing R&D.”
Of course there is also the actual science to consider and Sebastian Anthony in ExtremeTech.com debunks that: ” The problem with hoverboard technology is power. It takes a huge amount of energy to lift 180 pounds a few feet into the air – and a significant amount to hold that mass there or move it around. The energy and power density requirements are well beyond what’s capable with lithium-ion batteries.”
HUVr also proclaims Tony Hawk and investor Mark Cuban as partners in the product. As cool as the potential of all this may be, somewhere, several people are running around talking about how hoverboards are real. It’s like junior high all over again and also remembering Robert Zemeckis (Director of “Back to the Future”) claiming that the hoverboards used in filming were real technology, but unsafe as a consumer product – LIE.
Viral videos to woo investors and directors having fun on a DVD’s Special Features are all well and good, but as mentioned I am vengeful and irritated. Apparently HUVr subscribes to the P.T. Barnum school of salesmanship, and feels that lying to the public will stir up enough interest to get them funded for a completely ridiculous product. It’s clever, and apparently effective in getting people talking, but deceitful in an age where we are constantly lied to, misinformed and skeptical. Why contribute to this? Why waste everyone’s time? How much money have you already wasted producing that video?
One can only hope that this is a way to appeal to Silicon Valley’s sexy money to fund the research and development of a groundbreaking technology. Something that bold may excuse such stupidity, but the skeptic in me is crushing the dreams of my 10-year-old-self.
Here’s a post from HUVr’s Facebook Page:
Thanks for all your enthusiastic responses! We’ve received a lot of emails and comments, so we’d like to address the most popular questions:
- Yes! This is real! We look forward to showing you just how real The HUVr is with a series of public live events coming soon to major US cities.
- Yes! It is safe! Your safety is our highest concern. We wouldn’t release a product that wasn’t rigorously tested to the highest industry standards. When used properly, The HUVr is actuall y safer than riding a bike!
- Pre-orders will be available within the month and we hope to ship in December of 2014. Yes, we will ship internationally!
- We’re working with the manufacturer to bring the price point down to something everyone can afford. Based on your excitement, it’s looking like we can get there!
- Yes, it’s as fun to ride as it looks!
Really, now you’re just going to straight-up lie to my face?