Not my field after all. Except that the introductory paragraph says that the Lift e-Foil is "about as close to a real hoverboard as we're going to get". I like that. The thing that's real, the Lift e-Foil, is as close as we're going to get to the real thing, which is imaginary. Marty McFly had one in Back to the Future, right? Yeah, the second film. Yes, I did just search-engine the term <hoverboard> and find a lot of things with wheels. Yes, I also found this video, which reminds me that I was also writing about intelligent road surfaces on Wednesday.
Friday brought a short radio piece about an English (British?) inventor, Richard Browning, who seems to be working with hand-held jet engines (I'm guessing English; he's in the West Country), and somewhere online, I also found a Frenchman who's found something to stand on while he hovers above a lake in the USA. Couldn't find video of either of those actually taking off and flying, mainly because I didn't look for very long - the frustrating absence of definitive proof began to feel pleasantly retro. There's a place in the world for blurry photographs and still-on-the-ground footage. Where would the Loch Ness Monster be, if we could answer that question?
Reports of Richard Browning suggest that he wants to be "the real Iron Man", the film character, which of course takes us back a couple of paragraphs. But isn't this how innovation works? We dream of something, maybe so strongly that we make films about it, and eventually it becomes real. I'm not optimistic about the future because the day job brings me PR from big companies about the importance of innovation; I'm optimistic because, for example, a bunch of young people watched Marty McFly on his hoverboard, and decided to do something about it.
They sorted the "intelligent roads" problem, without even realising it was difficult (I guess), as part of getting their board to hover. They probably didn't declare themselves to be innovators, and I'd bet that one of them doesn't have a business card with "Head of Innovation" printed on it. But think about how they came to what they did. If only we could all stop "harnessing the power of technology" and just go where our ideas take us.