In my humble opinion (I'm no Barry Norman or Mark Kermode) the Back to the Future trilogy was one of the few series of films where the second and subsequent films were very nearly as good as the original. Having watched them all with my teenage children in one sitting on a rainy Sunday afternoon last year, I can say that with some certainty: they’re absolute classics.
The future date (in 2015) to which Marty jumped in his DeLorean in BTTF Part II has always stuck in my head because it happens to be my 48th birthday. In 1989, when I'd only just turned 22, that seemed like a prolific age (and my children still think it is) and it still seemed entirely possible that by 2015 we'd have cracked time travel, self-tying shoelaces and hoverboards. After all, in 1989 we had supersonic transatlantic air travel and a re-usable rocket that the Americans used to put satellites into orbit - surely a hoverboard couldn’t be beyond the wit of man. Sadly, both Concorde and the Space Shuttle are now things of the past, but I'm delighted to say that a Scottish company has just announced the launch of a genuine, all-singing, all-dancing hoverboard. A working prototype has just been demonstrated (watch this evening's Ten O'clock News) and 'The Scotia Hoverboard' will be available in the shops (yes, you've guessed it), at 20:15 on Wednesday 21 October 2015 - just in time to become the biggest selling toy this Christmas.
How do I know all this? Well, I'm delighted to say that Morton Fraser has just advised Scotia Hoverboards Limited on a £15m equity fundraising that will allow it to go into mass production, having worked secretly on the hoverboard for the last two years funded by a syndicate of high net worth individuals who all agreed to keep the development work confidential while it was under development at a secret location on the outskirts of Glenrothes. (Thanks also to HMRC for their very helpful R&D tax credit 'funding' of part of the research). The project was a joint venture with Segway Inc. of New Hampshire, who invested some of the development capital and granted a licence to Scotia of the gyroscopic technology that keeps the hoverboard stable and allows it be steered in the same way as a Segway, by leaning into the bends.
So how does the hoverboard work? The simple answer is that it uses magnetic levitation - creating a magnetic field underneath the board which is repelled by a non-ferrous surface like copper or aluminium - allowing the board to levitate. However, the really clever innovative bit is that the strength of the magnetic field generated by the Scotia Hoverboard is so high that levitation can still happen when the board is above a surface that doesn’t seem to be made of copper or aluminium. It's a little-known fact that the vast majority of everyday substances (paving stones, tarmac roads, soil/grass etc) contain trace amounts of copper and aluminium and it's those trace amounts that generate the lift. Previous attempts at commercially viable hoverboards have failed because those lesser hoverboards could only be used on copper or aluminium-coated 'hoverparks' and there aren’t too many of those around. The Scotia also incorporates new sensing technology so that if the board detects a drop in the copper or aluminium content of the ground, a small set of wheels is deployed in a fraction of a second, allowing the board to continue until it senses ground with the relevant level of copper or aluminium, at which point the wheels retract. Forward-thrust is generated as it would be on a skateboard and all Scotias will be sold with a helmet, elbow and knee-pads, complying with the latest health and safety legislation.
The Scotia Hoverboard® website is still under construction, but if you'd like more information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @austinlegalUK or call me on 0131 247 1260.