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September 2014

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Future Technology: What Will Sci-Fi Predict Next?

September 25, 2014

There is a Nostradamus in every Hollywood science fiction movie script writer. Many times, a new invention of technology was first seen on the big screen. From Jane Fonda's sexy space action heroine film "Barbarella" to Tom Cruise's cop-gone-rogue "Minority Report," movies have given us a glimpse of what lies ahead for technology advancement. Here are just a few inventions that sci-fi movies predicted:


Touch The Future


Barbarella (1968): Skype

A cult classic, "Barbarella," a sexy, blonde space heroine played by Jane Fonda, sets out to stop the evil Durand-Durand (not to be confused with the evil '80s band Duran Duran) from upsetting the peace within the galaxy. In one of the first scenes of the movie—well, if you can focus your eyes off the very lightly dressed Barbarella—you'll see her furry-coated pad is equipped with a flatscreen TV that has the technology of two-way video feed, or what we know today as Skype.

Her flatscreen is unique, however, in that a Roman-style female statue is holding up the circular screen. When Barbarella gets an incoming video chat from the President of Earth, the arm of the statue opens up to make the screen bigger. And, even more futuristic, Barbarella's screen is double-sided so she can carry on the conversation from either side of the screen. We have yet to see that kind of technology, but maybe soon.

Flash Gordon (1980): Drones

When we were watching the football stud turned galactic hero Flash Gordon, played by Sam J. Jones, saving Earth and the universe, there was a scene where a lizard-like man tries to escape the confines of Emperor Ming's (Max von Sydow) palace-like spaceship. But, thwarting his escape was a flying robot that disintegrated the poor captive to oblivion. This was an introduction to drones, which instead of disintegrating us, now deliver mail to our doors.

We now live in a world where drones can accurately deliver a bomb—or mail, if you will—to our front doors. However, until drones are capable of not falling out of the sky because of a malfunction (which is an issue for the U.S. Government to deal with for military and public use), the threat of them showing up at your door to disintegrate you with a death ray is minimal.

Back to the Future II (1989): Wearable Tech

Here we thought Marty McFly in "Back to the Future II" looked a little ridiculous wearing those funky futuristic glasses. Those glasses provided him information and entertainment, which are now a reality for tech-savvy consumers investing in Google Glass. These glasses tap them into the Internet, GPS and stored music and videos. In fact, the movie predicted Google Glass' arrival almost to the exact year. The hands-free device became available this spring, whereas "Back to the Future" was set in the year 2015. Not bad.

While they arguably still look as funky on people now as they did on Marty McFly and are still a bit steep in the price, Google Glass is steadily improving its worth in the business aspect. For example, with the Skylight app, medical experts wearing Google Glass can allow students or other viewers to see what they see when assessing the status of a patient. The app Augmedix also is a helpful app through Google Glass, which allows doctors to record data into electronic medical records during a health exam.

Gattica (1997): Genetic Testing

In 1997, Ethan Hawke's character in "Gattica," Vincent Freeman, showed us the possibility of getting to know oneself better on a genetic scale. Today, the technology exists to allow a person to study and explore one's genes with at-home kits. With this technology, you can find a weight-loss plan that matches your genetic pattern or identify certain genetic flags that may hint to your vulnerability of heart disease or inflammation. In the film, Freeman assumes another person's identity using genetic technology, however, it's still illegal to do so, just like in the movie.

Minority Report (2002): Touch Interface

"Minority Report" is one sci-fi movie that shows a myriad of tech advances. One piece of technology that is now in our hands is touch interface. Seen throughout the movie, starring Tom Cruise, touch screens now are a staple with mobile phones, tablets and even PC screens. Oblong Industries, which helped set up the slick, futuristic glass touch screens seen in the movie, have technology that we can use now, which allows us to share data from one device to another with little to no effort. Using a combination of screens and motion sensors, data can be retrieved, displayed and moved through a high-speed network much like Cruise's character in the movie.

While these movies displayed unimaginable pieces of technology, the reality is that they are here. So what will science fiction predict that will be seen in our futures?