News, Technology

Tony Hawk “Hoverboard” Video A Hoax

Tony Hawk; image: Tinou Bao
Tony Hawk; image: Tinou Bao

Sometimes, things on the Internet seem too good to be true.

That’s when people may start to challenge them, asking questions to figure out what’s real and what’s made up.

That is what happened when a video showing people riding a “hoverboard” recently went viral. (In this case, viral means the video was shared and seen by a lot of people).

The video was posted on a website by a “company” called HUVr Tech. (It wasn’t a real company.)

The video opened with the following statement:

In February, 2014 HUVr Tech hosted an event in downtown Los Angeles. The following demonstrations are completely real.

The video shows celebrities including famous professional skateboarder Tony Hawk riding a hoverboard, similar to the one used by the main character in the movie Back to the Future.

The HUVr Board is like a skateboard, but it “hovers” in the air, not touching the ground.

In the video, Hawk is presented with the hoverboard by actor Christopher Lloyd, who played the professor in the Back to the Future.

In the video, Hawk says, “I can’t believe how well it works. I didn’t think it would be that smooth… once I got on it, it felt natural.”

Other famous people talk about the HUVr Board in the video, including musician Moby and one of its “inventors,” who talks about how much technology is in the product.

It’s tempting to believe that there are such things as hoverboards.

However, it wasn’t long before people started questioning the video. People slowed down the video so they could look at it more closely.

Some people said they could see wires holding up the hoverboard and Tony Hawk. Others said that in one part of the video it looked like Tony Hawk is wearing a harness under his shirt, which would connect to wires to hold him and the board up in the air.

One person pointed out a shadow on the video which he said was the shadow of a crane (which held Hawk and the board in the air.)

Someone else looked at a picture of the “team of experts” who supposedly invented the HUVr Board. He discovered that one of the “experts” is really an actor after he found his photo online.

Eventually, a comedy troupe called Funny Or Die confessed to the prank.

They posted a video with the title, “Funny Or Die is sorry for lying about hoverboards.” In that video–which is meant to be funny and not taken seriously–Christopher Lloyd says he was “tricked” into believing the HUVr Board was real. (He wasn’t, and he doesn’t really believe that he was tricked.)

At the end of the “apology” video, Lloyd encourages people to go to Funny Or Die’s Facebook page.

The HUVr Board video

Tony Hawk issued a sincere apology about the prank:

Related links
The website of the “company” that supposedly invented the hoverboard.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
This article is about two videos, a fake company, a fake product, a fake website, and celebrities lying while telling you they aren’t.

How do you know what’s real on the Internet? If you find out something isn’t real, how do you know it’s meant as a joke and not to be harmful?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
The videos must have been very expensive. Why do you think Funny Or Die went to all that trouble and expense?

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Brand Names
Companies want you to remember their products so you purchase them again and talk about them with friends. One way that they help you to remember their product is through catchy names, such as HUVr Board. These are called brand names. For example, Funny Or Die spelled the name of the board in a unique manner so you would remember it.

What other brand names stand out in your mind? Why do they stand out to you? Why are they memorable or meaningful?