One of the reasons why reading a good futuristic novel or watching a sci-fi movie is so enjoyable is the opportunity to imagine future technologies. Ever since people have been telling stories and making movies, they have been speculating about how life might look and what new abilities we may have in the future. If you look back at old sci-fi books and films, people thought that by this stage we would all be driving flying cars and having vacations on the moon. While we might have to wait a little while for those particular sci-fi dreams to come true, there are plenty of science fiction ideas that have become science fact. Let’s begin with something we are all too familiar with since the pandemic forced us all to communicate in different ways…
1) Video Calling
2001: A Space Odyssey is arguably one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. Watching it now, lots of ideas that were futuristic at the time of release back in 1968 seem quite normal to us now. Video Calling is one of those things. Video calling from a space station back to earth while in orbit seems logical to us, but back when 2001:A Space Odyssey was released, the idea of being about to talk to someone in the next room via video link was mind-blowing, let alone in space. Now we make calls to people all over the world without even thinking about how incredible it is.
2) Mobile Phones
One of the inspirations for the design of the world’s first mobile phone came directly from Star Trek when the designer created a mobile phone inspired by what he saw on-screen. It was big and bulky but it started the industry off in its quest for smaller and more efficient mobile phones that could be brought to a mass market. When mobile phones finally shrunk to smaller than a house brick and no longer required a bank loan and a suitcase full of wires, there was one gadget everyone wanted; a flip phone. Just like those used in Star Trek long before mobile phones were even a thing!
3) Driverless Cars
Driverless cars are a relatively recent reality, but they have been a science fiction staple for a long time. In the 80s movie Total Recall, driverless cabs have androids in the driver seat (and let’s be honest, they are seriously creepy). These Johnnycabs, as they are known, are thankfully not what we now associate with self-driving vehicles. Nowadays, self-driving cars come without disturbing robots and we still have to sit in the driving seat ourselves. And if we do want to drive it, we don’t have to physically rip out the robot driver like Arnold Schwarzenegger had to.
4) Meatless meat
Lab-grown meat is one of the developments of modern technology that is particularly hard for us to get our heads around. The idea that meat can be created without the need for any actual animals is exciting to some, worrying to others. However, this distinctly modern idea is not really modern at all! A story that was written way back in 1880, talks about the production of alternative meat as a cheap alternative to raising animals. Whether lab-grown meat will ever become a daily reality for people remains to be seen!
5) Virtual Reality Games
Back in the 1950s, Arthur C. Clarke (a legend in the world of science fiction) wrote a story that described a form of entertainment that involved entering into a game that has a framework but each participant could have the freedom to explore and act. He said, “You could go into these phantom worlds with your friends seeking… excitement.” Sounds a lot like virtual reality, right? Now, remember that he was writing this before even conventional video games had been invented! This is before the days of space invaders, and he is describing the kind of virtual reality games that are even today pushing the boundaries of what our technology can achieve. So, next time you put on a VR headset, imagine the kind of creative thinking that foresaw such incredible technology 70 years ago.
We couldn’t leave out the hoverboard. The hoverboard featured in the Back to the Future movies captured the imagination of a skateboard-obsessed generation. Now I know, I know, that our modern hoverboards that have become insanely popular in recent years are not quite the same as those featured in Back to the Future. If you have ever fallen off one then you have every reason to be disappointed that they aren’t quite what we were all picturing. However, hear us out, because hoverboards that don’t rely on wheels and superhuman balance have now been invented! If you don’t believe us, check out the Arcaboard, a really ‘real’ hoverboard that levitates using magnetic field technology in a very clever way that we aren’t even going to try to explain here. Suffice to say, it’s the kind of no-wheels-required hoverboard that even Marty McFly would approve of.
Remember those flimsy, extendable wire headphones? Or the thick cables required for decent headphone sets back in the day? Maybe you are young enough that you only remember the inconvenient tangle of headphone wires after they have been in a pocket for more than 3 seconds. Headphone technology has come a very long way in the past couple of decades, with the latest wireless earbuds being almost invisible and delivering sound quality that we could only dream of a decade ago. Every time we get a new set of headphones, we marvel at how much better they are than the last set. However, in his novel Fahrenheit 451, author Ray Bradbury was way ahead of us. He describes “little seashells” that sit inside the ears to deliver “electronic sound, of music and talk”. When you consider that he was writing in the early 1950s, when headphones were enormous and the technology was in its infancy, this seems absolutely incredible.
8) 3D Printing
We are going back to Star Trek here, because why not? The series showed time and time again that what may begin as a far-fetched idea in the mind of a science fiction writer, can in time become reality. In Star Trek, replicators were able to produce items out of nowhere. The 3D printers that we are increasingly familiar with have developed to the point where we can produce solid objects, even incredibly delicate and intricate objects such as medical implants. However, they do require raw materials. As this technology develops further, scientists are experimenting with new techniques. At the University of Berkeley, experts have created objects using light. What did they name this technology? You guessed it: the Replicator.
9) Robot Helpers
We have looked at some of the legendary science fiction literature and films, but let’s spend a minute just looking back at the vision of the future that many of us enjoyed as children. The Jetsons was an animated TV show set in the future, and we could dedicate a whole article to how many of the sci-fi dreams in the show that entertained us as kids went on to become part of our adult lives. One of the most beloved characters was Rosie, the android maid who took care of all the boring domestic stuff for the Jetson family. From robotic vacuum cleaners to smart home technology, the Internet of Things, and the continued development of domestic robots, leaving the chores to a Rosie-type robot, is happening already. Maybe we should just brush over the countless horror sci-fi that sees robot helpers develop sentience that enables them to take over and control the human world that they were built to serve. Is anyone else looking with suspicion at their Roomba right now?
Most people we asked about what technology from science fiction they would most like to have said teleportation (although a food replicator was a close second!). Teleportation is perhaps the ultimate science fiction dream; being able to disappear and reassemble in a completely different place (or even in a completely different time) sounds impossible. It happens in Star Trek and in countless other sci-fi shows. However, quantum science might offer some hope to those who dream of teleportation. While scientists haven’t yet been able to teleport humans, they have managed to teleport information via photons and believe it may be possible to teleport electrons. Quantum entanglement is when two particles are linked, despite the distance, and whatever you do to one, happens to the other. While this technology has major implications for quantum computing, those of us who love science fiction can’t help wondering what the future of quantum teleportation could mean…
11) Quantum Healing
Quantum Healing is the new revolutionary breakthrough that we just can’t get enough of! Following the research of some great scientists such as Nikola Tesla, Galen Hieronymus, and others, Tom Paladino developed an instrument that can ensure your great health, with only the use of a photograph! Quantum Healing uses the principle of Quantum entanglement, combined with the ability of coding light, to help people with Pathogenic Diseases and Boost Wellness! And the best thing about Quantum Healing? It can be done from anywhere on the planet! Remote Healing knows no boundaries!
What sci-fi technology do you wish you could harness? What did you think the world would look like in the 2020s? Next time you watch something on television or read a science fiction story, ask yourself if your children or your children’s children might be using the technology that seems impossible to us right now…