A miniature magic carpet made of plastic has taken flight in a laboratory at Princeton University.
The 10-cm sheet of smart transparency is driven by "ripple power"; waves of electrical current flex a thin, 10cm sheet, driving thin pockets of air from front to rear underneath.
The prototype, described in Applied Physics Letters, moves at speeds of around a centimetre per second.
Improvements to the design could raise that to as much as a metre per second.
The device's creator, graduate student Noah Jafferis, says he was inspired by a mathematical paper he read shortly after starting his PhD studies at Princeton.
He abandoned what would have been a fashionable project printing electronic circuits with nano-inks for one that seemed to have more in common with 1001 Nights than 21st-Century engineering.