Classic science-fiction authors like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells predicted the nuclear submarine and trips to the moon long before the science for those technologies existed. Our parents and grandparents marveled at just the idea of future technological advancements coming true. Now, our current generation anticipates the next advancement in technology coming to fruition the very next day, month or year.
Pick a science-fiction film or TV show or series from 1950 to 2000. Look past the clunky special effects and what may be ridiculous scenarios. Agreeably, they would be outdated by today’s standards. Now take a closer look, and chances are you will see equipment, a vehicle or even a piece of furniture featured in that particular film or program that was thought impossible to exist during that era but is an integral part of our lifestyle today.
Here are six influential technologies birthed by science-fictional minds and which are thriving in the 21st century. Some of them even sport famous brands.
1. Skype Or FaceTime In 'Blade Runner' (1982)
Android hunter Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) does all his communications through “video phone.” He opens a phone and talks to his girlfriend or his boss while seeing their images in real time. He can do this while stationed in a building or traveling in a car. A modern viewer won’t even pay any attention to this activity because it’s common practice now through smartphones that have Skype or FaceTime capabilities. However, the cellphone wasn’t even invented in the early 1980s, let alone streaming data that can allow someone to converse visually with someone miles away.
2. Full Body Scanners In 'Total Recall' (1990)
A security scanner sweeps Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character as he goes through an airport’s screening device. The X-rays unveil not just the content of what he is carrying, but the skeleton and organs in his body. Fast forward to a new security weapons detection device that now exists, and it actually improves on the movie’s original detection capabilities. This advanced technology from Patriot One Technologies Inc. utilizes radar wave technology that can spot concealed guns, knives and other dangerous devices carried by a person or placed inside baggage.
Unlike Arnie’s X-ray machine, though, it doesn’t invade privacy. It also notches a few security levels higher because it has the capability of detecting a threat without requiring any possible suspects to go through a large, physical metal detector.
3. 'Talking Watches' Used By Dick Tracy And James Bond
The greatest cops and spies in the mid-twentieth century wore a watch that acted as an alarm clock, an alert system and a mobile phone. Audiences found it klutzy back then, especially when our heroes had to bend to speak to the device on their wrists. But the creative team behind those movies are having the last laugh. Apple watches and other wearables that are being released to the market today are more than just communication devices; they are actually small computers that can bail out a modern-day hero — and their real-life counterparts — in any emergency.
4. The Tricorder-Turned-Tablet In 'Star Trek: The Original Series' (1966—1969)
Another example of science fiction turned reality. Spock used to carry this palm-sized radio-looking contraption with him in any landing party. With just a few pushes of its buttons, he could use it to scan the environment of a new planet, extract information from the starship’s main computer or input new data. The tricorder is now a tablet used by adults and teenagers alike, and not limited to scientists.
The tablet can download any information from the internet and store a multitude of images, video and audio clips and documents you direct into it. Find the right software or app and it might have the capability of the same environment-sweep as the #StarTrek tricorder. There’s an app for that!
5. Self-Driving Cars In 'Minority Report' (2002)
The automated driverless cars in Tom Cruise’s world of the future were just a fantasy 15 years ago, but they are turning into reality and an industry now. Formidable car founder Ford has invested $1 billion in churning out these smart vehicles that would drive you to your destination at your voice command. Their computers would navigate your trip and avoid the traffic-congested roads, a la Waze. Ford’s estimate release date is 2021.
What was once a dream of a writer, moviemaker or scientist is now the reality today. More society-defining innovations are being developed in labs and tested in research facilities: robotic teachers, tourist trips to Mars and planetary cities. As science-fiction creators are fond of saying, “The adventure is just the beginning.” Today, we find ourselves in front of future reality, and embracing it we are.
Check out more tech inspired by Star Trek in the video below, then head over to Movie Pilot Video for more:
What other future tech are you most amazed by?