Recently, Disney showed off a game-changer for Star Wars fans. The company has a real, working lightsaber. Not one that is capable of melting steel doors, mind you, but it has a real blade that extends from a hilt, much like what we've seen in the movies for more than 40 years. But how are these going to work, exactly? Thanks to a helpful fan, we now have a much better idea.
Disney showcased the product during a recent presentation for its parks and attractions. Disney Parks chairman Josh D'Amaro closed the show by revealing the lightsaber and news quickly spread. The working lightsaber dates back to a patent that was filled in 2018. While videos/photos of the demonstration have yet to make their way online, web developer and self-proclaimed Star Wars fan Ben Ridout took to Twitter to showcase a couple of animations that explain the device.
The two animates cooked up by Ben Ridout reveal the inner-workings of the lightsaber described in the patent. What we see is a remarkably simple idea. Basically, Disney has utilized similar technology to that found in a tape measure to bring a lightsaber to life. In explaining how it works in his Twitter thread, Ridout said the following.
"It's based on a familiar concept, the Tape Measure. A steel tape measure is somewhat sturdy when extended short distances. The curve in the steel provides strength and the mostly flat tape can still be wound up on a reel inside the body of the tape measure. That's important. Disney's lightsaber design extends (get it?) the basic tape measure design. Imagine connecting two tape measures together so each tape faces in on each other when they are extended. Connect the ends of the tapes with a circular cap. Next, widen the tapes and increase the curve, allowing them to partially wrap around each other and form a complete cylinder. Drive this system with a motor so both reels can be extended and retracted in synch at the push of a button. Now, you've got a lightsaber!"
The animations are certainly helpful to eager fans who want to get their hands on one of these lightsabers. But questions still remain. There are durable enough toys and collectibles out there to duel with, for example. Will these working lightsabers be capable of going blade-to-blade? Admittedly, the animations make them look like they might be a bit delicate. It also remains wholly unclear how expensive these will be when/if they are made available to the public.
It is expected that the lightsabers will be made available at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at some point in the future, given that these were showcased at a Disney Parks presentation. Certain lightsaber replicas can already go for hundreds of dollars. So, depending on just how impressive these prove to be, it could be a burden to the ol' bank account. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any official details are revealed by Disney and Lucasfilm. In the meantime, you can check out the animations for yourself from Ben Ridout's Twitter.