Can an elevator go sideways? They will soon! As commercial elevator installers in PA, we were excited to discover the newest innovation in the field. But there’s something more exciting than lateral movement reminiscent of elevators on the starship Enterprise. And that’s what elevators of the future will leave behind; cables.

We wrote previously that the biggest limiting factor in the height of buildings is, oddly, the weight of the elevator cables. Turns out that as the buildings grow taller and the cables grow longer, their weight, not the weight of the cargo and passengers they carry, turns out to be the heavy lifting. Past a certain point, the machinery just can’t lift the weight. So they’re now experimenting with light-weight cables, industrial strength ribbons, in fact.

But according to German company ThyssenKrupp (who manages the elevators in the elevators at the new One World Trade Center), the future is in maglev transit that will permit elevators to travel without cables, not only up and down but sideways as well.

Dubbed “Multi”, it’s predicted to change the shape of buildings because they will be able to run multiple cars in each shaft. This might reduce the space devoted to the lifts that must be allocated in today’s buildings.

This, in turn, may impact the economics of skyscrapers because there will be more leasable space.

As a commercial elevator installer in PA, we think it will be quite a while before we get a ride in one of these cable-less elevators, much less get the chance to install one. But who knows? A full-sized prototype is scheduled to be built in 2016. The future may be sooner than we think.