Wearable technology that is practical in real life and is commercially viable simultaneously represents the next frontier in our technological advancement. Among all the concepts of wearable tech, one that has been most difficult to materialize is the jet backs, or if you like it the other way around rocket belts.
The two factors that are major impediments in the translation of this concept into products in consumers' hands have been:
Rocket belts use normal fuel, which means that they are tremendously heavy.
Their capacity to carry only a limited quantity of fuel. This can make them airborne for under a minute at the most.
Now, however, several companies are taking the lead and trying to make rocket belts available for consumers (with big wallets.) These daring companies might not have been able to remove such obstructions completely, but they are trying.
One of these companies is Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana (TAM). Based in Mexico, it has managed to build a prototype that has commercial potential. TAM claims to be the only company that has managed to produce a rocket belt that is custom-made to pilot's size and weight. It runs on a hydrogen peroxide fuel and thus quite heavy (124 to 139 pounds.) The catch, a single ride lasts only 30 seconds. That won't get you too far, I believe. Then of course, there is the unbelievable price tag: according to the official site:
The total price for all this is only $250,000.
So unless you are in a real hurry to speed across what 800m max, you don't need to get one of these. The site also claims that the initial investment can be recouped via public demonstrations in special events like rocket man does. Yeah right, I might as well learn to juggle chain saws in the air (which by the way, I think is really cool.) The Price tag includes the classes needed to fly this baby around.
The only company that is currently a nemesis for TAM's monopoly in this market is Jetpack International. It, too, has built its own jet packs, which are commercially available. Its Jet Pack H202 manages to fare better in terms of flight time by a whole 3 seconds (d'oh!) This Jet Pack manages to fly for about 33 seconds and costs $155,000. There is a different version on the website -Jet Pack H202-Z, which manages a flight time of 43 seconds. All thanks to its increased capacity that stands at a neat 8 gallons of H202.
The silver lining; Jetpack International is currently working on a turbine-engine based version which will blow our minds away. The company claims that the product, which will be available on December 11, has an estimated flight time of 19 minutes and will be able to fly over a distance of 27 miles. Now that is something worth waiting for. The T73 Turbine will run on jet fuel and will be far better than what is available currently.
Is this the future? I think not. These darlings are still too dangerous and pricey to go into massive usage. However, with technology improving rapidly, to foresee a Jetsons-like scenario is not that hard.
And of course any discussion on jet packs cannot terminate without paying homage to a daredevil who has opened up our eyes to this wonderful concept. Go Rocketman: