updated 1/20/2006 6:13:15 PM ET 2006-01-20T23:13:15

Elevators controlled by magnetic levitation are set to debut as early as 2008, promising speedier, quieter and more comfortable lifts. These elevators use magnets in place of wheels and guide rails to travel up and down.

Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. said the elevators would be the first in the world to employ magnetic levitation — a technology capable of suspending objects in midair through combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion.

Maglev technology has already been used to develop high-speed trains. The only passenger-carrying maglev train in the world links Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China, to the city center at up to 267 miles per hour. A maglev shuttle in Birmingham, U.K., was abandoned in 1995 after 11 years in operation because of technical glitches.

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