As inventive and imaginative as speculative fiction and sci-fi is, often it feels as though it misses the mark when it comes to predicting the future of technology. There are very few stories for instance that feature the internet heavily before it became available, and almost any film set in ‘the year 2,000’ is filled with hover cars, laser guns and lots of silver jumpsuits instead. Look out the window and you might notice that hover cars never really ‘took off’ (apologies for the pun), silver has never really been ‘in’ and lasers are mostly saved for CD players.

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We could speculate for a while on why these predictions never came into fruition, and on what this might mean for the next few decades of innovation, but that would get pretty heavy. Furthermore it might also be a little unfair because in some cases these films and stories have actually gotten it right. While the ‘big’ stuff such as teleportation and space bridges might not have come to fruition yet, some of the smaller ideas and observations have been a lot more successful. There are many gadgets and gizmos that once featured in science fiction that you can now actually buy from the shelves. Some of these still feel very futuristic, while others seem ‘mundane’ suggesting just how far we have come in a matter of a few decades. Here are some examples…

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Automatic Doors: It is common knowledge that the automatic door which we now take so much for granted, was originally inspired by the first Star Trek series. The series has been credited with several other innovations but this is no doubt the most ubiquitous and useful today. The only thing that hasn’t yet been successfully emulated is the satisfying ‘fschm’ noise they made on TV…

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Hoverboards: There have been several films that featured hoverboards (the 1980s Transformers Movie is a personal favourite), but the most famous of all has to of course be Back to the Future 2. Okay, so this is a little bit of a stretch seeing as no such hoverboard is as yet commercially available, and the only version that exists will only work if no one stands on it. However the device which was made as a piece of art by a French artist called ‘Nils Guadagnin’ still uses some incredible technology such as a laser stabilization system. If the basic principle were to get some serious funding then who knows, perhaps it could be the next extreme sport?

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Video Calling: Other than the floating treadmill and strange little spaceships, perhaps the most memorable idea from the Jetsons was that everyone would talk via large monitors. This isn’t quite the case as there is actually little use for video calling for general chats, but it is still very much ‘available’ and is popular via Skype for long distance calls, video conferencing set ups for business meetings and the front facing cameras on most smartphones just for fun.

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Cloning: Okay so a clone isn’t quite a ‘gadget’ but it is certainly very sci-fi, and it’s quite incredible to think that cloned pets are already commercially available. That’s right – if your dog or cat should go to cat or dog heaven and you were forward-thinking enough (read as ‘insane enough’) to have taken and preserved a tissue sample, then there are various organizations in California that are already able to give you an exact copy of your little friend.

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Robot Servants: Depending on what you count as a robot servant there are either hundreds or a few commercially available devices that fall into this criteria. For the average user there are devices like the Dyson Robotic Vacuum Cleaner DC06 that can clean your house for you while you snooze and similar things for pool cleaning and lawn mowing, there are machines like the Mujiro Rigurio which can work as a ‘security guard’ for private or commercial properties, and then there’s the e-NUVO robot ‘tutor’ which can teach your children about robotics. So far though none of these robotic servants have organized a revolt however so that aren’t exactly like the ones in the sci-fi movies.

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So don’t underestimate those ideas from older science fiction books and movies. They may become tomorrow’s next innovation.

– Michael Hall

 

Michael Hall is experienced sci-fi/techincal writer who loves to blog about upcoming technlogies, sci-fi gadgets, sci fi posters and sci fi related topics on his personal blog. Besides from blogging he keeps great interest in collecting different types of sci fi posters as personal hobby.