The Hoverboard is here. Well, kind of. Ever since Back to the Future II came out back in 1989, people have clamored for a company to create the Hoverboard seen frequently throughout the movie. There have been several attempts, but Lexus has unveiled their version which appears to be the closest iteration of the beloved Hoverboard.
Unfortunately, there’s a catch. Lexus didn’t suddenly uncover technology that we’ve all been dreaming about since seeing the second Back to the Future. They’ve called on familiar tech (running a supercooled superconductor over a magnetic field) which has been used and demonstrated in a variety of other experiments and videos. That means the Hoverboard will only work in a very specific location.
Here’s the science and background, as explained by Forbes:
The first thing to know about the Slide is that it’s basically a maglev board propelled by the rider, which means it will only work over a magnetized surface. So nobody will be flying all over Hill Valley or just about anywhere else except for Lexus’ specially built skate park. That also means you won’t be able to buy one anytime soon, the whole thing is just an exercise in brand-building for Lexus.
The technology involved in this hoverboard isn’t exactly groundbreaking, either. It runs off of superconducting levitation, which basically involves running a supercooled superconductor over a magnetic field. A low profile cryostat is used to keep the superconductors in the hoverboard at a cold enough temperature for riding and while it looks as though McGouran is all over the skate park in the video, he’s actually sticking to a narrow magnetized track below a very thin covering that blends in with the rest of the park surface.
This video may explain things a bit further and it might crush your dreams of obtaining a Hoverboard as seen in the films.
While impressive, it’s still kind of disappointing. In reality, though Lexus made some advancements, this is just a flashier version of other science experiments which have been around for quite some time. That’s not to say this isn’t awesome – it is – but the world is still pretty far removed from a fully functional Hoverboard.