This Japanese startup is making a hover backpack to augment jumping ability  3/14/2018 5:21:27 PM   Nick Statt
Image: Lunavity

We live in a post-Juicero world, and yet somehow, inexplicably, startups continue to push the limits of what is a socially acceptable expenditure of engineering effort. Case in point: Lunavity, a hover backpack for augmenting one’s jumping ability from a team of University of Tokyo students that seems to draw most of its inspiration from the sheer aesthetic absurdity required to reliably float a human being for brief amounts of time.

The device, a non-functioning prototype version that was shown off in the expo hall of Austin’s SXSW festival this week, uses a circular series of rotors to provide enough downward thrust to let the human wearer jump higher and for longer than is normally physically possible. The team behind the product says it should allow someone to jump two to three times higher than normal. The overall effect seems designed to replicate low-gravity environments, hence the moon-themed named.

Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

The Lunavity creators seem to be leaning into the ridiculousness of the product, describing its function as a way to “make the world a more interesting place.” The simulated ways one would use the product were on display in a video posted to YouTube earlier this month showing a Lunavity wearer jumping over a crosswalk, slam dunking a basketball, and watering the fruit of a tall tree in a ludicrous fashion and with overly self-serious narration. It suggests a cheeky bit of self-awareness — or an utterly bewildering lack of it, I suppose — on behalf of the Tokyo students who seem to recognize how outlandish it all is.

There’s no pricing or release date for Lunavity yet, and we don’t know if the product, should it actually be carried through to a consumer release, will make it out of Japan. But regardless, you have to respect the creators of a hover backpack for dreaming big.

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