It’s been almost two years since we last talked about it.
but now Disney has taken advantage of the South By Southwest Festival to unveil to the public – this time live – its most anticipated creation: a “real” lightsaber.
Josh D’Amaro , president of Disney Parks and Experiences , in fact took the stage in Austin with the precious invention, claiming that it is the same one used by the guests of the very expensive Galactic Starcruiser (although the videos of that experience show swords with blades instead rigid, non-retractable). “I have the coolest job in the world,” he said. “I’m wielding a real lightsaber!” Then, D’Amaro ignited the sword… and a glowing blue blade shot out of the hilt, accompanied by the signature chime.
Obviously this is not a laser beam, but the effect is impressive (even when the blade retracts). Seeing is believing:
Disney shows off their “real” lightsaber at #SXSW pic.twitter.com/e3AqDRV53P
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) March 11, 2023
How does it work?
Disney hasn’t shared details about this invention, but some clues could come from the past. In 2017, the House of Mickey Mouse filed a patent for a “working” lightsaber, equipped with a much more complex mechanism than the telescopic tube of current toys. The technical details are traceable on Google Patents , while the drawings allow us to clarify the technology.
I don’t have any photos or videos of the lightsaber – but who wants to see some completely random patent images? Anyone?https://t.co/X4OCRjbdf6 pic.twitter.com/pS5XnmS53W
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) April 8, 2021
To give an idea of how it works, imagine the plastic tube of a collectible lightsaber: cutting it in half lengthwise, we get two half-cylinders. In the project in question, the two half-cylinders of plastic are rolled up like a tape measure inside the hilt, and when the sword is activated, they unwind together, merging into a luminous blade (the light is generated by a flexible ribbon inside the bodies of the blade itself). We don’t know for sure if the sword in the video uses this mechanism, or perhaps a more advanced version of it, but it is probable.
The lightsaber… real
Outside of Disney , though, someone has already made a “real” Jedi weapon . Last year, Hacksmith Industries broke into the Guinness Book of World Records for building the first retractable plasma lightsaber – in other words, the closest thing to a real lightsaber ever made. Featuring a gorgeous steampunk hilt , the sword is actually a very luxurious blowtorch, but the plasma forms a visible, albeit short, beam. Of course it’s not as solid as the one in the movies, but it also pierces very resistant materials.