“An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”
―Obi-Wan Kenobi giving Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber
As a Star Wars fan, it’s hard not to get super stoked when news of an actual working lightsaber hits the headlines. And with Disney recently unveiling their own version of the Jedi weapon at the film, tech, and music festival South by Southwest (SXSW) earlier this month, it’s safe to say The Force is strong with this one.
“I have the coolest job in the world,” Disney Parks and Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro told the audience, adding, “I’m holding a real lightsaber.”
Several Twitter users pointed to a patent presumed to be for this version of the device, filed by Disney in 2017.
According to the patent, the “sword device with retractable, internally illuminated blade” uses motors to unroll a “blade” filled with a strip of flexible lights hidden within its handle.
“The device includes two long plastic semi-cylinders, and these two blade body members are rolled perpendicular to their length, which creates compact cylinders of material of small volume that can be provided on a pair of spools in a hilt,” the patent explains, alongside designs for the device.
“To extend the blade, a motor provided in the hilt unrolls the blade body members from the spools. Each blade body member passes through a blade-forming guideway that nests the semi-cylindrical blade body members together as they leave the hilt. To retract the blade, the process is reversed.”
As the blade is activated, a neon-blue blade appears, accompanied by the iconic sound of a powering Jedi weapon.
Despite Disney Imagineers bringing the work of fantasy into reality, there are no plans at the moment to make the lightsaber available to the public. However, curious readers can now see the lightsabers in action at Disney’s Star Wars attractions.
However, as seen with YouTuber Alex Burkan’s own working lightsaber creation, the technology behind the retractable lightsaber is possible to achieve. Burkan’s 2,800 degrees Celsius (5,072 degrees Fahrenheit) lightsaber blade can even cut through steel. However, unlike a real lightsaber or the ones shown off by Disney at SXSW, the blade only works for about 30 seconds on full power, making lightsaber battles short-lived unless they occur near charging ports.
It’s exciting to see the technology behind the retractable lightsaber come to life. While we may not have access to our very own Jedi weapon just yet, it’s clear that The Force is strong with those working to bring this fantasy into reality. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll all be wielding our lightsabers. Until then, we’ll just have to settle for watching the movies and dreaming of a galaxy far, far away.