John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The Lexus prototype isn’t yet practical for the skate park.
People were amused when Cleveland’s J.R. Smith showed up at this year’s NBA Finals on a “hoverboard.” But it seems he was riding the crest of the zeitgeist, as word now comes of a new hoverboard that actually glides about an inch above the ground.
While Smith’s contraption had wheels, the Lexus Hoverboard achieves flotation via “liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and permanent magnets,” reports Engadget. The car company is pitching it as something rich skaters might actually want to own: “Wrapped in a design that is uniquely Lexus, the Hoverboard features the iconic Lexus spindle grille signature shape, using materials found in the luxury car brand, from the high tech to the natural bamboo.”
Just one catch: The board needs to be above metal to hover. (There’s some under the gray pavement in the below video.) Okay, two catches; Lexus calls it a “real, rideable hoverboard,” but there’s no public proof this thing can support the weight of a Tony Hawk, let alone a Jabari Pendleton. Still, if it does work, maybe in the future it’ll be an interesting way to explore metallic milieus like railroad tracks and aircraft carriers.