The future is HERE!

Hovering and quake-proof homes are the next wave. Are you ready?

Learning From History

Twenty five years ago, it took only fifteen seconds for a major earthquake to wreak an incredible amount of havoc upon the Bay Area in Northern California. The Loma Prieta earthquake, coming in at a magnitude of 6.9, caused damage to a variety of important landmarks around San Francsico, killed over sixty people, and caused injury to thousands of others. The Bay Bridge endured serious damage and part of the bridge even collapsed due to the quake. It is no secret that California is prone to earthquakes and, in Northern California, researchers have been doing their part to make sure that any future large quakes will not do the same damage as occurred twenty five years ago.

Challenging Mother Nature

Engineers at Stanford University have been working hard to create a home that can withstand the stress of an earthquake measuring over three times the force of the Loma Prieta quake of 1989. A video of a recent “shake test” shows just how sturdy and secure the small home is. The technology behind this home is twofold. One part of the technology frees the home from its foundation. This involves a series of sliding “isolators” that allow the home to move along with the shaking rather than to stay put and collapse. The second part of the technological advancement involves unibody construction, a technique that engineers borrowed from the automotive industry. The house is outfitted with extra strong walls made of thick sheetrock which will, unlike traditional walls, remain upright and intact in the event of a powerful quake. Additionally, extra screws, glue, and stucco play a role in the quake-proof home. This research from Stanford is just one of the new innovations being put forth in an effort to secure homes for quakes to come.

Looking Ahead

If you’ve been wanting a hoverboard since first having watched Back to the Future, fear not because your dream may soon become a reality. The next wave in earthquake technology may seem to stem from an unlikely source; however, electromagnetic architecture could potentially be useful in the building and quake-proofing of future homes. Researchers from Arx Pax, based in in Los Gatos, California, have been developing a new kind of technology that could have us seeing hoverboards in the not too distant future. The “Hendo Hoverboard” is currently being tested and crowd funded through Kickstarter as not only a toy for future consumers, but also as a type of foundation security for homeowners. In the event of a flood or earthquake, the electromagnetic field below, that would repel the weight above it, causing it to “hover”, could allow a home to simply be lifted up and away from any damage that could be caused by the earth shaking underneath. The idea for a hoverboard — which would cost potential consumers a whopping $10,000 — is still somewhat far away, but, thus far, it is definitely an interesting prospect for homeowners and contractors to consider.

Who knows what the future holds? While it is, of course, yet to be seen, it seems that we are definitely moving in the right direction in terms of technological advancements for homebuilding and quake-proofing. The ever present threat of the next “big one” is something that is constantly looming; however, with a little bit of crowd funding and research, it may not end up being as big as previously feared.

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