Here’s a cool article on rocketbelts in Slate. Clearly the next big thing after we all get our flying cars.
The big problem (and, no doubt, the main barrier to serious consumer adoption) seems to be maintaining stability. (Check the quote about a bad flight: “I felt like I was a balloon someone blew up and let go.”) Staying pointed in the right direction (which seems usually to be: upright) requires fine-grained manual control of the thrusting rockets.
Now, doesn’t this balance-and-orientation thing seem like something that should really be controlled by the machine, a la Segway, rather than by hand? Dean Kamen, are you listening? Mailmen, foot-patrol cops, and warehouse restockers are limited to a miserable top speed of 12 miles/hr right now, not to mention the embarrassing limitation to the 2D surface world. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the future *I* want to be living in.