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Lexus Hoverboard Revealed: A PR Stunt That Only Works On Special Surfaces

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After all the hype, the Internet speculation, the clever videos... It turns out, the Lexus Hoverboard is real. It's not a hoax.

That's its one solid virtue. It does exist, it's not a camera trick, and it can be ridden like a floating skateboard. But that's where the good news ends.

Thanks to a handful of reports just starting to appear across the Internet from journalists who were secretly invited to try out the hoverboard for themselves, we now have full details on just what the Lexus Hoverboard is — and what it isn't.

First, it's not a commercial product. Lexus will not be manufacturing and marketing them to consumers. It was built purely for use in a car commercial. It's simply too expensive to make to be cost-effective as a real product.

Second, Lexus itself didn't actually create it. According to The Verge, it was built by a "group of scientists in Hamburg, Germany who had [already] been working on maglev technology." Those scientists are from an engineering firm called Evico, and their technology pushes against gravity with the help of magnetic levitation — not unlike the Mattel hoverboard seen in Back to the Future, Part II. Which admittedly, is pretty cool.

Third — and this is the dream-killer — it only works on special surfaces. Bloomberg says Lexus and Evico had to "lay down hundreds of small magnets" on a copper floor, converting an existing skate park in Barcelona into one that the hoverboard can traverse. Ordinary concrete, dirt, asphalt, you name it — nothing else will keep the hoverboard afloat.

In addition, Lexus' Hoverboard runs for about twenty minutes, and less depending on environmental factors and the weight of the rider. Its fuel is liquid nitrogen, which according to Jalopnik has to be refilled "every ten minutes or so."

So there it is. Lexus and Evico really did accomplish something no one's done before, in constructing a working hoverboard. But it comes with serious limitations that make it too cost-prohibitive and surface-dependent to be useful to the general public.

One thing that every reporter that's ridden on it agrees on, however, is that riding it is like nothing else they'd ever experienced. Some had a more difficult time balancing on it than others, but even those who only managed to ride it successfully for a few seconds raved over the feeling of frictionless gliding. See it in action below.

Hang in there, Marty McFly. Real life may be running a little behind schedule, but the future is still on its way.

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