While most industry experts have their eyes on the upcoming development of the internet of things, some are thinking past the newest changes in kitchen tech on the horizon and instead preparing to be the innovators of the more distant future.
One such thinker is Ger Jansen, a Dutch inventor who runs the levitation design firm Crealev with his daughter, Angela. While most mainstream markets have yet to suggest that levitation will be a highly valued feature, Jansen is banking on the assumption that levitation will soon have a bigger place in society than the magician’s stage.
So far he’s had more business than many people would have predicted. Jansen has helped to rig levitation set ups for modeling shows, Nike commercials and art displays. He’s also created an array of modules that use patented technology to suspend lamps in mid air.
Jansen’s inventions rely on magnetic discs and sensors that allow for modules to weigh up to 10 kilograms and still levitate up to nine centimeters in the air. Jansen can make heavier objects levitate at higher levels, but generally only does so when approached with a particular project in mind.
“Our customers drive us by requesting more demanding solutions,” says Jansen. “For the higher and heavier loads we have to combine the largest levitation modules.”
Jansen is also working on making his magnets more responsive and capable of enabling more complex levitating movements.
“People don’t want something to just float but also to interact with it. What should happen then is that sensors around the object move depending on the movement of people, so the object is more intelligent.”
For a man with such a niche skill, Jansen is surprisingly over-worked. According to the inventor, he receives requests to make basically every conceivable item levitate. These are generally sent by illusionists and thrill seekers, many of which hope to see him levitate a human being. Jansen has been hesitant to embark on such a challenge.
“You could have magnets inserted into clothes but it would not feel like resting on the clouds,” Jansen explained. “If you have these magnets working together it’s a giant force. It can hurt the skin. There need to be safety precautions.”
The Jansens are by no means the first inventors to focus on making levitation a mainstream and accessible feature used in the home. A Californian company has released a set of floating speakers that promise a “unique experience” for the listener. Czech designers have also produced a computer mouse that is buoyed by magnetic force, a feature that supposedly helps to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome for users.
As it stands, the technology utilized for magnetic levitation relies on the presence of a base for the levitating object to float over, requiring that objects remain stationary to continue levitating. This has been one of the major short comings of the technology that has made transportation a more common industry to make use of the technique than home-based applications. By nature the technology requires a fair amount of infrastructural construction.