British Inventor Develops Levitating Lounge Chair

An inventor inspired by "Star Wars" is creating an item of household furniture that hovers off the ground to give a feeling of weightlessness.

Keith Dixon, 40, from West Sussex, England, is to launch the Lounger, an armchair that floats on magnets, next month and says he has already had inquiries about it from all over the world.

"Sitting on it is an incredible sensation," he said. "You are defying gravity."

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The chair comprises a base and a see-through acrylic seat. Magnets attached to the base and the seat repel each other, forcing the seat to float at a height of up to 14 inches. A pair of connecting rods stops the seat shooting off sideways, but allows it to move up and down.

The Lounger has taken Dixon four years to design and develop at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. It is due to go on sale on March 14 at about $11,000. He plans a limited initial run of 2,000 through his company, Hoverit.

He was inspired by the Landspeeder vehicles that hover over the ground in the "Star Wars" films.

"I remember clearly watching 'Star Wars' as a small boy and being absolutely fascinated by the sand vehicle ... I really wanted to levitate and I just knew I could make it happen," he said.

He joined forces with Steven Wild, a computer-design expert from Cambridge, who said: "It was a real Dragon's Den deal."

The three nonelectric magnets in each chair are powerful enough to support a person of 250 pounds.

"The lounger moves when you sit down, but then it finds its own level," said Dixon, of Middleton, near Bognor Regis, who originally trained as a chef.

While there are some claims that magnetic fields can help ease back and muscle pain, Dixon warns that the chair is not to be used by anyone with a heart pacemaker.

The magnets may also affect a television if it's within 4 to 5 feet.

"But it just discolors the picture," said Dixon. "It returns to normal if you move the lounger away."

There is one other danger, too. If you sit down with your wallet in your pocket, the magnets may wipe your credit card -- but not the bill.