The future has arrived
BY NORA MANTHEY
When Lexus presented the Hoverboard in August this year, fans of the ‘Back to the Future’ movies’ dreams came true. The Slide is a levitating skateboard and yes, it literally hovers.
One must only think of a flying carpet to catch the essence of the Slide. “Back to the Future messed my whole generation up,” Lexus spokesperson Maurice Durand’s admits.
The Slide spot had two million views on YouTube two days after its release. At the time of writing, more than ten million people had watched the Hoverboard video titled ‘It’s here.’
Making the impossible possible, “sometimes just takes a little longer,” Haruhiko Tanashi, Lexus Chief Engineer, knows. In this case, it took 403 days, two levitation experts from Dresden and one pro skater. Clearly, the Slide is less science fiction than just science. No crazy professor had to be involved, all it took was thorough research.
Essentially, the hoverboard floats above a magnetic field generated with permanent magnets covered underneath a flat surface. Here, however, our dreams of flying are shattered as our present roads are not magnetic.
To overcome this technicality, Lexus built a magnetic skatepark, the Hover Park, in Barcelona. Yet, preparing the ground is not enough.
At the core of the Slide are blocks of superconductors. They are housed in two so-called cryostat reservoirs containing liquid nitrogen. It cools the material down to -197 degrees to keep it at superconductive temperature. The superconductors shield from electric or magnetic force and the hovering begins.
This principle is applied in the real world, i.e. in high-speed Maglev trains. Yet, never before has the technology inspired so many people, nor has it ever looked more stylish.
The nitrogen adds a smoke effect, much like the dry ice in chemistry class, only that this nitrogen is three times colder – and way cooler. The board itself is a mix of nature and high tech as it blends bamboo and a carbon light-weight body.
Sliding though is not too easy at first. Falling or screeching on pavement might await those who lose balance. So far, pro skater Ross McGouvan is the world’s only hoverboarder – unless, Marty McFly arrives from the future as scheduled for later this autumn. Until then, the Slide is to remain a dream, as Lexus has not got any plans for serial production.
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q3 2015. Picture credit © http://www.lexus-int.com