Disney have demonstrated a retractable lightsaber at tech, film, and music festival South by Southwest (SXSW). Videos from the talk show Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Josh D'Amaro fire up and then retract the device in front of the crowd.
“I have the coolest job in the world,” 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. 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."
The lightsaber is used in shows at Disney World, but is not currently on sale to the public.
Due to safety concerns, and likely a whole host of other equally important concerns, the lightsaber will also not slice you through you like they do in the Star Wars movies. However, one amateur YouTuber did create a retractable working lightsaber, entering the Guinness Book of World Records last year.
Alex Burkan, who runs the YouTube channel Alex Lab, created a device which can produce a 1-meter (3.28-foot) long plasma blade when initiated. The 2,800 degrees Celsius (5,072 degrees Fahrenheit) blade can even cut through steel.
"The key component of my lightsaber is an electrolyser," Burkan explained to Guinness World Records. "An electrolyser is a device that can generate a huge amount of hydrogen and oxygen and compress the gas to any pressure without a mechanical compressor."
However, unlike a real lightsaber or the ones shown off by Disney, the blade only works for about 30 seconds on full power, making lightsaber battles short-lived unless they take place near charging points.
Also, Burkan added, "sometimes the lightsaber just blows up in your hand because of hydrogen flashback."