In the past couple of days, there seemed to be a lot of hype about a recent teaser video that Lexus had released. A new (kind of) product. SLIDE, the first real, working, hoverboard. The first time I watched the video, my first immediate reaction was ‘yeah right!’, and closing the video. But then I kept on noticing that people are sharing it like crazy, saying that this is the greatest thing that humanity had been missing, and how cool that Lexus had invented it.
I went back to the video and gave it a second watch, a few days later, and yet again, the same feeling that something is off had surfaced again. Too many questions and doubts. I decided I had to investigate, dig deeper, and learn more about this thing. The first, and most obvious question was ‘how does the Lexus hoverboard works?’. The second question was ‘Is thing for real? Where is the catch?’.
Back to the future hoverboard scene – where it all began
I’m guessing that most of the people are already familiarized with the term hoverboard, from the movie ‘back to the future 2’. I believe that almost everyone that watched the hoverboard scene, wanted to own one of these boards. Even back than in the movie days, people started to speculate and ask, how can this thing work? Almost everybody I know said ‘it must be magnets. You can see there are surfaces that are attached to the bottom of the board. That’s how it’s done’.
Since it was a sci-fi movie, it doesn’t really matters if they were right or wrong. Magnetic levitation, just like everything else, is possible in a movie. After digging some more I found some educated guesses that claim that that initial movie assumption wasn’t that far from the truth.
How does the Lexus hoverboard works? An educated guess.
Trying to search for information about how Lexus achieved what they claim, was futile. Beside reading those 3 short paragraph that they publish on their site, stating that it is done with the help of liquid hydrogen and superconductors, I could only find other zillion posts that just pointed to that same official Lexus website, and repeated that very same simplified explanation. Feeling frustrated, for the lack of a good source of information, I turned to the one place where I hoped I can find some sane people that aren’t dazzled by Lexus’s teaser video clip. Reddit.
It took me 2 minutes to find the information I wanted on Reddit. People were skeptical, just like me, about the existence and possibility that the hoverboard was a reality. Good, I am not alone. The best explanation I could find about how the Lexus hoverboard works was by a user called “dirtyultraface” that seems to be working with superconductors, the very same technology Lexus is claiming the hoverboard is using. His explanation eased most of my doubts, and he gave the video below as a reference to how this hoverboard can be real and working.
First of all the hoverboard can be a reality, and it seems that people already created some variation of this technology before, so that was a very pleasant surprise. Being that said, the Lexus hoverboard is probably not what you might think or hope for. As you can see in the video, by using a set of super magnets and superconductor that is cooled by liquid hydrogen, you can actually make a surface levitate in the air.
If we take this concept and try to implement it, in order to understand how the Lexus hoverboard is working, this is what we will actually need to presume, in order to believe the hoverboard is a reality:
- The surface that the board is riding on will have to be embedded with strong magnets in it, and not just the concrete surface that we see in the video.
- The superconductor that is supposedly being used with the board will have to be cooled with liquid hydrogen. Which maybe explains the fumes we see around the hoverboard in the clip. The blocks underneath the boards are probably the storage place where the liquid is stored.
So… Assuming the above is correct and possible, and the hoverboard is a reality, people should still need to understand that the way the hoverboard will move is not as they imagine. The only possible movement will be on a track, which means, it will only move forward or backward on a preset route. No ability to deviate from it, unless the track is changing.
The bottom line
This video could be just another prank, just like the one Tony Hawk participated in, a little more than a year ago. Whether or not the hoverboard Lexus had built is a reality, is beside the point. Understanding how the Lexus hoverboard works will only be possible once it is released. If it is real, then it is well designed and crafted, and it will probably be a great experience to ride on one. If it is not, then we had been fooled once more, with the same prank. Either way, Lexus achieved exactly what they wanted. They got a huge viral exposure to their brand, with everyone sharing their video and linking to their site. I admire their play, very well done. kudos.