When Tech From Science Fiction Films Becomes a Reality

As this snippet from the 1990s TV show The Art of Living demonstrates, the technology we used to only dream about is slowly (or not so slowly) becoming an everyday reality. We can turn on the heater before we arrive home using our smartphone. We can video call each other from our laptop, computer, smartphone, or tablet. And home security is no longer just down to a key, we can use CCTV, electronic gates and more.

Smart homes are a reality, voice recognition is the favour of Government department call waiting systems, and fingerprint technology is part of most smartphones. But what other fantasy tech items from decades gone by have come to be a reality?

Some of the most exciting tech ideas have come from Hollywood. Smart watches and remote controlled aircraft were all in the movies before they were in reality. Let’s take a look at some of our favourite moments from tech cinema.

Fingerprint Scanner/Diamonds Are Forever

Let’s start with some simple tech – the fingerprint scanner. In the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, Tiffany Case and her biometric scanner were fooled by Bond’s fake fingerprint.

These days most smartphones and laptops have fingerprint technology, only as Bond showed us, they can be easily fooled. So if you want your computer to stay secure then keeping your antivirus software up to date and having a secure home network are the way to go.

fingerprint scanner






Rochester Cloak/Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility

Appearing in most of the Harry Potter films, the Cloak of Invisibility enables Harry and his friends to sneak around Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, where they get up to all sorts of mischief. The Cloak of Invisibility does exactly what it says it does – makes the wearer invisible.

Scientists at the University of Rochester were inspired enough by Harry’s magic to attempt to create a real world working invisibility cloak. Dubbed The Rochester Cloak, the science behind this tech is about manipulating light with a series of carefully placed lenses to make it appear as if an item has disappeared when passing behind it.

See the Rochester Cloak at work in this video:

Sense Suit/Spiderman’s Spider Suit

In the comic strip and films, Spiderman could sense when trouble was near – he’d get a tingley feeling. This notion of a ‘sixth sense’ was taken up by students at the University of Illinois and been turned into a suit. The suit senses the near environment and lets its wearer know of any surrounding objects by pushing on the wearer’s skin. The idea behind the suit is to improve environmental feedback for a wearer who is without sight.

spiderman suit







Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)/Ironman’s Suit of Armour

Ironman is one of the few superheroes not to have superhuman powers., Iinstead he relies on a powered suit of armour full of tricks to help him defeat his opponents. Also known as an exoskeleton, these types of suits have been in development for decades. But as of last year The Warrior Web Program which is also supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), married its bionic legs and bionic arms to make a full bionic exoskeleton powered suit.

Iron Man suit

The TALOS is bulletproof, helps the wearer to carry heavy loads, has cameras to help with night vision, as well as sensors that can detect injuries and apply wound-sealing foam.

Bell Rocket Belt/ James Bond Jetpack

Another James Bond piece of technology, this time from Thunderball – the jetpack. Built by Bell Aerospace for NASA, the Bell Rocket Belt enables its wearer to fly at a height of up to 9m and at a speed of up to 97 kilometres per hour! The Bell Rocket Belt is powered by nitrogen and hydrogen peroxide and has been used to train astronauts but has since been superseded by more efficient training technology.

james bond rocket pack

Robotic Arm/Mad Max Fury Road – Furoisa’s Arm

Whilst robotic arms are hardly a new concept, the Biomedical engineering company Össur has created a thought controlled prosthetic leg with better robotic capabilities than any of its predecessors.

The Össur system allows its user to control movement with their mind, unlike earlier incarnations of robotic limbs which required some kind of muscle impulse stimulation from the amputation site.

Air touch screen technology/Minority Report crime prevention screens

The touch screen, or rather screenless, technology from The Minority Report is gradually becoming a reality. In the film, and the short story from where it gets its inspiration, the lead character (played by Tom Cruise) uses floating touch screen technology to access databases full of visual information which he can then extract with the sweep of a hand, and reorganise to help with his crime fighting.

Taiwan’s ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute) is one of the world’s leading high-tech research and development institutions. The ITRI has developed one of the first see-through display and air-touch input technologies for computers, wearable computers and mobile devices. Amazingly, these can be used hands-free without any physical device. By wearing a pair of special eyeglasses, users can see and interact with a virtual touchscreen or mouse floating in air, while still seeing and interacting with the real world around them.

Microsoft have also been working on the Hololens project which is a virtual reality headset that enables high-definition holograms to come to life in your world, seamlessly integrating with your physical places, spaces, and things. There is no launch date for the product yet, but look to see this available in the USA during 2016.

You really have to watch this video to get an idea of the sort of experience to expect from it:

Hoverbike/Star Wars Speeder Bike

The Speeder Bike chase scene in Return of the Jedi had us all wanting a flying motorbike. Well Aerofex made it a reality, at least it’s about to be.

The Aero-X hoverbike is due to go on sale to the public in 2017. The hoverbike can go 72 kilometres per hour and lift up to 10 feet off the ground. And just like the Speeder Bike in the Stars Wars movies, it can carry two people (so long as your combined weight is less than 140kg).

Too good to be true? Tech Hoaxes

While there’s been some amazing tech that’s made the transition from science fiction into science fact, don’t always believe everything you read/see. Like this brilliant hoax video, featuring Tony Hawk on the HuvR “Hover Board”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4vE_vpkr90&feature=youtu.be

All hope is not lost for the Marty McFly hopefuls out there, as researchers continue to work on making consumer hoverboards a reality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bfa9HrieUyQ

Let Geeks on Wheels take you into the future

If your robotic arm was too enthusiastic and now you need computer repairs, or your invisibility cloak is malfunctioning and needs antivirus software and malware removal, give us a call!

We probably can’t set up your hoverboard or repair your exo-skeleton, but we can help you set up your devices to work on a home network, or conduct on the spot computer and laptop repairs. Get in touch with one of our highly trained Geeks today.