No stranger to manipulating sound, and no stranger to successful Kickstarter projects (we previously covered the Soundlazer), Richard Haberkern believes he has created some legitimate Hoverboard technology. Without magnets. Or Voodoo. Or a Flux Capacitor. Whether or not that precise translation will emerge remains to be seen, but at this point the inventor has at least designed a functional device that uses sound waves to levitate objects.
As explained and demonstrated in the video, Haberkern's sound wave research showed that aiming an ultrasonic sound beam at a reflector could produce a force powerful enough to lift a solid object (i.e., a foam ball). Small tweaks to the beam could then produce a standing sound wave that would hold the object in the air. On these principles he designed the Ultrasonic Levitation Machine. Its most basic, user-friendly form consists of a levitation stand, a driver board, an ultrasonic transducer, a 120/240VAC power supply, and a bag of foam balls.
Haberkern encourages the budding scientists and engineers he hopes will experiment with the kit to unlock the technology needed for a working Hoverboard. "In theory," Haberkern says, "with enough power and the right transducers to create a huge amount of sound pressure, you could lift heavy objects off the ground."
For those curious about the possibility blowing out their eardrums during Ultrasonic Levitation Machine use, Haberkern suggests taking precautions (i.e., wear earplugs) when running it for long periods of time. The machine produces an ultrasonic wave of 28,000 cycles per second with a wavelength of 12.14286 millimeters, and consumes up to 70 watts of power to produce a sound wave strong enough to levitate objects. However, the majority of this pressure wave travels only 12" to 18" from the transducer when in air, so tinkerers and their pets should not experience any ill effects of machine use.
Ultrasonic Levitation Machine backers will receive a Sonic Levitation Kit with all of the components needed to float along the currents of sound and build a levitation engine, or maybe even the elusive Hoverboard technology. And maybe even in time for October 21, 2015, the fast-approaching date Hoverboards really did exist in Back to the Future II. The project runs on Kickstarter through October 10, 2014.