Lexus just put out a tease of a video that suggests it’s accomplished one of the most iconic sci-fi feats and created a working hoverboard. It’s not 1000 percent clear if this is real, or if it’s some sort of hoax like that other hoverboard announcement, but here’s to hoping.
According to a minimal website, the board is called “Slide” and works using magnetic levitation. The mist emanating from the board’s bottom hints at the real-life physics that would make a hoverboard possible. The most reliable we have of making things float in space like in Back to the Future II is to use a superconductor placed in a magnetic field. Here’s what that looks like:
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Superconductors are materials that, when cool enough, can transmit electricity with no resistance. So unlike a a copper wire that gets hot when it’s live with a charge, a superconductor stays totally cool. The catch is that every superconductor we know of has to be very, very cold before it actually becomes a superconductor. You have to chill it way down and keep it cool with something like liquid nitrogen. That’s what the mist coming off the bottom of the board is. Or would be, if this hoverboard is real.
There’s another catch. Superconductors don’t just float over anything; they need to be suspended in a magnetic field. So if this hoverboard is real, it’s only going to float over ground that is heavily magnetized. In a way, it’s similar to that other hoverboard-with-a-huge-caveat from Hendo which floats, but only above surfaces coated in copper and only while making a horrible screaming sound. It does hover though.
This Lexus hoverboard (if it is real) would be similarly impractical. You’d have to fuel it up with liquid nitrogen constantly and it would only work at magnetized skateparks or something. That is, unless Lexus has some other innovation up its sleeve.
It’s unclear what plans Lexus has for Slide, other than dribbling out information about it as the weeks ago on. While it might be a ruse, the physics behind it are spot on. The question is whether Lexus can bring anything more to the table than a video of some skateboarders doing what we’ve all wished we could do since Back to the Future II.