This elevator goes in all directions like a Wonkavator

That odd word isn't some grownup's toy. It is, instead, a coined term that sprung from the genius of famed children's book author Roald Dahl, appearing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is a fictional elevator that can travel vertically, horizontally, and even diagonally. Fiction, however, is now a possible reality, thanks to the persistence of German steel mmaker ThyssenKrupp and the power of magnets.

As one of the world's largest steel producers, ThyssenKrupp is naturally invested in seeing buildings rise higher and higher. But these skyscrapers come at a cost that few might know or even think about: elevators. Traditional elevators, which are pulled by steel ropes, can only go as high as 500 meters. That is why really tall buildings have multiple elevators servicing different lengths, and people inconveniently shuffling between them.

Enter the Multi, a more mundane name for Dahl's Wonkavator. It doesn't have height limits, because it doesn't use a rope and pulley system. Instead, it utilizes magnetic levitation or "maglev", the very same technology driving Japan's famous bullet trains. Freeing it from ropes, however, also has a nice side effect: it no longer has to travel vertically only.

Using a rotating exchanger, the Multi's passenger cabin can be made to travel vertically to service passengers on the same floor but from other sections of the building. But why stop there? The cabin can also be made to travel diagonally from one floor on one side of the building to another floor on a different side.

It might sound like fantasy, and indeed some critics called it that when construction of the elevator began three years ago, but it is close to opening for public use in another two years. Of course, the Multi is going to be three to five times more expensive than conventional lifts, but ThyssenKrupp promises that the savings you get in the long run do make up for it.