The original “Star Trek” series introduced the world to numerous fantasy gadgets that inspired a generation. Remember how Federation personnel on the show simply clicked their shirts to communicate with the ship, locate other personnel, or get data instantly to solve problems? The idea of a flip-style communicator was the genesis of the flip-style cellphone decades later, as well as the smartphones we take for granted today.
Movie technology often involves art imitating life or life imitating art. Either way, there are plenty of science fiction ideas in current movies of tools we wish we had and just might have in a decade or two.
Some of the examples include:
- A cloak of invisibility – “Harry Potter” movies made the most recent version of the invisibility cloak popular again, but the idea has been in movies for generations. While becoming invisible will likely take a century of technology, light refraction and emulation is far closer. Inventors and probably military types are working towards a viable product that reflects images to effectively seem invisible.
Photo of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak by Karen Roe via Flickr
- Digital transport – The idea of being digitally sent from one location to another is still impossible, but it sure would be a nice tool to have. Instead of having to commute for two hours a day or waste days on a plane for a vacation, a person could simply be zapped there in a few seconds.
Photo of Star Trek transporter by tkksummers via Flickr
- Real, functioning robots with intelligence – The latest “Battlestar Galactica” series and the movie “I, Robot” visualized what happens when sentient robots go bad, but the idea is still viable and wanted by many. Having a personal robot to handle any number of tasks is simply the next level of human advancement.
Photo of robot from the movie I, Robot by Ludo29880 via Flickr
- Virtual immersion – Being able to go into computer programs and games and use them without a computer keyboard or a mouse has been an ongoing goal of program designers. While virtual reality tools are getting closer, they still feel artificial and elementary in effect. However, the movies make virtual reality something to aim for, especially the holodeck on later Star Trek series episodes.
- The Fix-It Tool – Who wouldn’t want a sonic screwdriver that seems to fix just about everything while also analyzing it? The Dr. Who sonic screwdriver is the tool man’s ultimate dream of technology, doing away several tools previously needed for repairs. Unfortunately, this particular screwdriver can’t be found on any late-night informercials or at the big box retail stores. However, it would be a really need tool to have if it was ever invented.
Photo of the Dr. Who sonic screwdriver by Tony Buser via Flickr
- Remote control of the house or office – While it’s not possible yet to make sure all the dishes are washed and food cooked before getting home from work, remote home and facility technology are advancing. There are a number of ways a homeowner can keep is residence safe and monitored from a distance already, and a number of burglary cases have literally been solved with arrests because homeowners caught people in their homes and got the police there timely.
Movies and TV will continue to influence our daily life and technology, so don’t stop watching the SyFy channel just yet. (If you don’t have it, check out TV comparisons to get your daily dose of geeky gadgets.) It should be interesting to see where life will be in 20 years from now. For example, computers may go away entirely and be virtual screens in the air as imagined in “The Minority Report” or “The Children of Men.” Who knows what the future brings.
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Lawrence is a freelance writer and father of three. He loves writing on a wide range of subjects. His favorite topic is how to get kids involved in the outdoors.