Lexus Hoverboard takes you back to the future

Lexus decided to make a dream for new people who are thirsty for adrenaline come true, with its new Hoverboard, a seemingly regular skateboard that wouldn’t strike you as that different at the first glance. But there is a difference and in fact a big one. This board hovers above the ground 2 or 3 inches, which makes you imagine yourself running, your hand beneath the board as it floats, suspended in midair.

It has already been some time since the very first teasers and speculations made their appearance, and now the result is outstanding.

However as it turns out, the future is hard; professional skateboarder Ross McGouran has plenty of spills on the way to mastering even basic moves. That’s perhaps not surprising, given that riding the Lexus hoverboard is basically like straddling a maglev train.

Now, before we go further, let’s throw away even the slightest feeling of distrust. There were many who doubted the authenticity of such a project, especially with Lexus acting like it was trying to keep a safe distance all this time, concerning the official announcements and presentations.

So to all those who still don’t believe that the project is real, BBC has the answer with the help of Physics. “When you cool certain materials to extremely low temperatures, in this case -197°C, they become ‘superconductive’. If you position them near a magnet during the cooling process, they oust the magnetic field and effectively remember their position relative to the magnet. In other words, the superconductor memorises a set gap and – so long as it stays cold – could ‘levitate’ there forever. This is actually a bit different to maglev train tech, which relies on electromagnets for lift and propulsion, but you get the idea.”

Unfortunately, the steam’s not the only thing that may not be quite what it appears. The biggest disappointment for hoverboard enthusiasts is that this hoverboard has metal underneath it, on the surfaces which makes it considerably heavier and harder to handle.

And that’s the first point in this case, where reality opposes to expectation. Lexus's initial Slide video trailers went viral. Suddenly, it seemed possible to be Marty McFly, surfing through air. Still, the final video shows just how hard it is to ride this hoverboard. “A skateboard has got resistance. Even with a surfboard, you've got the resistance of water,” says David Nordstrom, a general manager for global branding at Lexus International in Tokyo. “This is essentially floating on air. If you've ever tried to stand on a board, or something on water without any momentum, that's what this kind of feels like.”

It was truly a very hard project to complete. It took about 18 months during which Lexus considered throwing in the towel on several occasions, according to Yolande Waldock, who leads the global brand team for Lexus International. However skateboarder McGouran didn’t feel like giving up, so he ended up pushing the project forward with a new bag of tricks each time such as riding above water.

The bottom line is that whether we like it or not, a car company has been pushing the boundaries of styling for the past few years and is now pushing the boundaries of modern technology as well. By spending cubic dollars on an ad campaign they may have inadvertently helped advance a technology that makes the modern automobile obsolete. As one wise man once said: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”


By: Bill Thompson | General | Aug 16 2015
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