With touch-screen tablets and screens, voice activated robots that live on our phones, and 3D televisions all readily available, it’s sometimes easy to take for granted the incredible technological advances that led to these things becoming everyday items.
For generations, movies, science fiction and even children’s shows like The Jetsons envisioned the gadgets and devices of the future world.
So how many of those seemingly futuristic and far-fetched ideas have come to life in the modern world?
Invisibility: Harry Potter and James Bond
While wands that spit out magic and summoning the car keys without having to leave your seat may still be a while off, the world of Harry Potter did give generations of children an idea of the mischief and adventure that an invisibility cloak could enable. James Bond’s Aston Martin had a similar ability to vanish in a recent Bond film.
But in 2008, scientists working in North America laid down the foundation for exactly those technologies when they created a material in a lab that “bends” light away from it. That means that when you look at something surrounded by that material, your eyes can’t see it no matter how closely you look.
VOIP and Video Calls
While it’s now taken for granted that we can videoconference via Skype or Facetime, the Jetson’s super sized video caller that descended from the ceiling was the first time this was represented in popular culture.
Back in the 1960s, when the show aired for the first time, the concept wasn’t even in development, and only existed in the minds of some conceptual and imaginative scriptwriters!
In a sign of how fast technology moves, some of the futuristic inventions dreamed up in the past have already become unfashionable. The cast of Star Trek were equipped with space age communicators that closely resembled the generation of flip phones that were popular a few years ago.
But with the advent of the touchscreen phone, flip phones quickly became passe, and are now rarely sighted.
The most common feature of “the future” is probably robots, with Rosie the Robot Maid from the Jetson’s a regular feature of the show. While it might not wear an apron, millions of houses already have a robot doing the cleaning with the Roomba robot zipping around doing the vacuuming.
In manufacturing industries, including motor vehicle assembly plants and FMCG packaging plants, robotics are becoming integral to day to day operations.
In addition, voice recognition software from Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s software means that we can simply ask our devices to do our research or check the weather. It won’t be long before software and hardware meet and we can give voice commands to the robots that already exist.
From automatic doors, trips to the moon, commercial space flight and the hoveboard, there are literally dozens of inventions that once only existed in the realms of science fiction and TV shows – and have become a reality.
The truly exciting thing is that we probably can’t even predict how our lives will be shaped and improved by the inventions that are yet to come.