I’m sure that, like me, you’ve always been wondering what the he** the hundreds of genius-engineers from Google or NASA can be doing all day long in their top-secret labs? Well, my theory is they are watching Sci Fi movies. Take the Internet of Things for example: a lot of connected objects that we are today using (or will in the short future) were already found in Sci Fi decades ago – actually not only movies but also comic books and other literature. Here is a list of 10. Any other ideas?
1. Improved vision : Google Glass
In “Back to the future II”, created by Robert Zemeckis in 1989, Marty Mc Fly wears goggles that look pretty similar to today’s Google glass – yet with a 70’s fashion touch. In the movie, they enable you to watch TV or pick up the phone. With Google Glass, not only can you send messages or watch videos, you can also search the web, get some navigation help, take pictures or videos or play music. Some things that “Terminator” was also able to do with his cyborg-eyes giving him (or it?) some meta data on his environment. In 1984, James Cameron already got the hint that we would want to improve our vision with technology.
2. Driveless cars
Sci-fi movies anticipated a long time ago the embedded technology that would give super-powers to cars. In “Minority Report”, by Steven Spielberg (and before that, a short story by Pilip K. Dick), automated cars can drive themselves, can be controlled remotely – the police redirects the destination of the car while Tom Cruise is trying to escape – or has an integrated communication system. Google, again, was the fastest in developing such cars with “Google Chauffeur”, currently being tested on a few Toyota Prius, Audi TT, and Lexus RX450h. Will they also be the ones to build flying cars? Because Sci-Fi movies also anticipated this kind of technology, for instance in “Back to the Future” or in “Blade Runner”. Google, any suggestion?
3. Multi-purpose drones
Unmanned Aerial Vehicules appear in a great number of Sci-Fi movies and also video games. In fiction, drones were used for the military (as seen in “Call of Duty”) or as journalists’ cameras (as seen in “Back to the Future”). The U.S. has now a fleet of drones to carry out missile strikes over Pakistani territory to find Islamist extremists, and are also being put to use to monitor the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico.”Drone journalism” is also becoming a new “fashion” in journalism, yet the trend has still to figure out how to get the authorizations for flying. Amazon is even working on its “Amazon Prime Air”, a drone-service used to deliver packages even faster than today.
Scene from Back to the Future
On a related topic, in “Short Circuit” (1986), a corporation tries to convince the US military to add robots to its arsenal. The plot of the movie is centered around an experimental military robot who gets struck by the light and get a more human-like intelligence. In real life, autonomous robotic systems are becoming a greater interest for the military. For instance, the Modular Advanced Armes Robotic System, a.k.a “the killer robot”, already exists, yet its production was stopped at the end of last year.
Short Circuit, 1986
4. Smart watches
Dick Tracy, in the eponymous comic book, fights crime using his smart watch: he can make calls and watch TV using his bracelet. The strip started in 1931, yet the wrist-bracelet was only introduced in 1946. A few decades later, Pebble, Martian Watch or I’m Watch all enable you to measure, track, receive, communicate… Anything you want: there’s a watch-app for that. Yet you shouldn’t feel the need to fight crime just because you have Dick Tracy’s accessory.
5. Quantify your (remaining) life
In 2011, Andrew Niccol releases “In Time”, a movie depicting a world where time has replaced money. Genetically modified humans don’t get older than 25 but need to “earn” time not to die. A pretty scary idea that seemed to have inspired the app Ignite, capable of basically telling you when you’re gonna die, based on a certain number of health and environment parameters. Wanna know when your time is? The app is free on the Apple and Google stores.
6. Stress detector
The iconic first scene of “Blade Runner” depicts a questioning session between a police officer and a Replicant (renegade human-like robots that… well if you haven’t seen the movie you should, really. I’m not gonna tell you about it) using a device measuring his level of stress and emotions. 34 years after Blade Runner, PIP just finished its crowd funding campaign and will enable you to
track and kill replicants measure your level of stress using a unique small device that looks like a car key.
7. Connected sex toys
In 2003, “Matrix Reloaded” puts in pictures the dream of all men and women: being able to give an orgasm remotely. In the movie, it has to do with the matrixy-powers of Lambert Wilson, a.k.a The Merovingian, yet a little less than a decade later, comes Vibease, the connected device that is supposed to bring more happiness in long-distance relationships or just get more pleasure by plunging users into the immersive fantasy experience that the app offers. To learn more on the issue of connected sex toys, I wrote a previous (much longer) piece on them. Enjoy!
8. Portable scanner
In the mythical series “Star Trek”, the crew uses Tricorders for multifunctional purposes like scanning, recording and analyzing data. In “Start Trek the original Series”, started in 1966, the Tricorders is supposed to exist in the 23rd century, yet we can find some examples with great similarities today. For instance, the TellSpec – still in beta mode – is a small device that enables you to scan any type of food for its components, especially allergic components.
Guess which is a Tricorder? Not so easy huh?
9. Human-Machine interfaces
Some fans of the movie “Minority Report” reproduced the exact same crazy screen that Tom Cruise plays with when trying to catch soon-to-become criminals. Yet aren’t our touch-screens already pretty similar? “Start Trek : The Next Generation” already featured small-sized computers controlled by hands, pretty similar to Ipads. Weirdly enough, they were called… PADDs. Fiction is becoming more and more real with the development of UltraHaptics, a hands-free touch screen. Soon in our living-rooms?
10. 3D printers
In “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (yes, again, they are not a reference for nothing!) the Replicator is a machine capable of producing and recycling objects, mainly meals, by rearranging subatomic particles. Today’s 3D printers cannot reproduce pork-chops nor use subatomic particles, but are definitely a Sci Fi dream come true. From these 10 examples, one could conclude that Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick or Ridely Scott were all visionaries. If it’s true for their talent in writing and movie-making, it is not necessarily the case on the “predicting the future” point of view. According to Hervé Bougon, cinema programmer and expert in urban representation in Sci Fi: “Science-fiction is not “forward looking” as such, has no “prospective value” per se, yet it is more a representation of the excesses of current times, using the medium of Sci Fi to point them out.” To learn more about the real future of connected objet, come and join us at the Connected Conference taking place on June 18th and 19th at La Halle Freyssinet.