Future Tense

Run to Your Nearest Bespoke Skatepark to Try Out This Lexus Hoverboard

Hoverboards don’t work over water, do they?

Screencapture from www.lexus-int.com

Everyone knows that hoverboards don’t work over water.

That, at least, is the received wisdom in the fictional 2015 of Back to the Future Part II. In the real 2015, however, it turns out that they do, as long as that water is part of a “bespoke skatepark” that emits a magnetic field.

Three years ago, Slate’s Will Oremus lamented that hoverboards weren’t on the way, “not by 2015, and quite possibly not in our lifetimes.” This week, however, luxury car maker Lexus is showing off just that, a skateboard-like device that levitates a few inches above the ground.

As Dezeen reports, “Lexus worked with scientists from research institute IFW Dresden and magnetics specialists Evico to develop the board, which uses magnetic fields to levitate.” This allows it to release a magnetic field that pushes back against the one produced by the custom skatepark in which they shot the video.

This device appears to be a descendant of Mag Surf, a project developed by researchers at Université Paris–Diderot. As Oremus explained in 2012, Mag Surf worked by cooling the bottom of the board to 200 degrees below Celsius. The Lexus Hoverboard likewise relies on liquid nitrogen, which accounts for the puffs of gas expelled from the bottom of the board in the video.

While it’s a significant step forward from earlier designs (Mag Surf could only run along a narrow magnetic track), the Lexus Hoverboard probably won’t be widely available any time soon. Unless you have a magnetized bespoke skatepark, of course. If you do, the future might be here already.