The global film business is a multi-billion dollar industry that goes to show just how much movies and theatrical releases are enjoyed all over the world. Even apart from the box office, people like to purchase home media which they can enjoy and cherish with the rest of their family members.
The film industry is a cornerstone of pop-culture that deeply impacts our lives, including fashion, human behavior, creative thinking, and even technology. A lot of movie gadgets, as a result, have emerged into the real-world.
According to a recent study by Statista.com, the worldwide box office generated revenue of more than $42 billion in 2019, with Disney having a box office market share of 30% in North America.
The US is considered amongst the biggest film industries globally, with over one billion tickets sold in 2019 and visiting theaters to watch films is undoubtedly a popular pastime among Americans. Over 10 million people visit movie theaters frequently, and more than double of them are movie fans from ages 12-24 years old.
In light of this information, let’s take a quick look at some movie gadgets shown in popular Sci-Fi movies that emerged, transpired, and materialized into the real world.
Exoskeleton from Iron Man
Modern prosthetics are showcasing how technological improvements can lead to offering people with physical disabilities a second chance at life. Even in the military, we have Hercule V3 by RB3D, which is a lower-body exoskeleton developed as a joint military/civilian exoskeleton project.
In 2016 at the Robo-Human Robotics Event in Paris, the French company RB3D showcased their new exoskeleton called Exo Push which is significantly larger and features a sizable backpack.
The Hercule V3, in particular, offers you the ability to easily lift about 200 pounds with a battery that lasts for 12.5 hours on a full charge.
Who knows for sure how much integrated robotics can become in our lives. By the looks of Elon Musk and his proposal for AI’s integration into the nervous systems, things can sound pretty scary at times.
Face Scanner from Minority Report
Minority Report was released back in 2002, which is 19 years from now, and back then, facial recognition technology was not made accessible to the public.
In fact, in 1993, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) and the ARL (Army Research Laboratory) established FERET (Facial Recognition Technology) to assist intelligence, law enforcement, and security.
Real-time face detection in video footage became possible in 2001 with the Viola-Jones object detection framework.
It was not until 2011 that people finally got to use the technology themselves when Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich added facial recognition using a smartphone’s front camera for unlocking devices.
By 2017 the Face ID platform was launched via Apple’s iPhone X smartphone, and the rest is history. Though certainly a robot calling you at your home is a totally other problem to deal with.
Flexible Display from Red Planet
The 2000 science fiction thriller film Red Planet wasn’t a commercial success; however, it offered viewers a glimpse of modern tabloids that included flexible displays. These displays showed how the user could bend them according to their will for ease of use or carry them around.
Flexible and rollable displays came into the spotlight at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2006 when Phillips first showcased their rollable display prototype.
However, back in 2005, Arizona State University had already dedicated 250,000 square foot facilities to develop flexible display and its research called ASU FDC (Flexible Display Center). Over the year, many renditions were produced by various companies, including Nokia, Sony, and finally Samsung.
Finally, in 2019, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was introduced as a foldable smartphone for general audiences and the public. The smartphone also features 5G cellular technology. However, there is still a long way to go; this is the closest we have come so far as using flexible displays as a consumer electronic product.
Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future
While time travel is still a far-fetched concept that can be made real, a team of scientists from Australia and Switzerland have at least plans for a real-life version of the flux capacitor.
While the device certainly is unable to make time travel possible, however, it does break time-reversal symmetry, which is a heap of quantum physics jargon that very few can make sense of or comprehend.
So to break it down, what it does is that it acts like a tuning fork for quantum systems enabling microwaves to be channeled towards a specific direction.
This is achieved through quantum tunneling that whips microwaves around a central capacitor, which would help build better radar technology and more capable Wi-Fi or mobile antennas. But who knows, maybe someday we might actually discover time travel, even if it is by accident.
Holographic Displays from Iron Man
Holograms have always mesmerized viewers where both animate and inanimate objects can be brought to life on a 3D viewing pane which supposedly allows for further interactions.
In 2008 the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first rendition of Iron Man showcased Tony Stark, the eccentric billionaire, using or in fact playing with holograms to fans’ delight. Even before that, Star Wars series have also shown Darth Sidious dishing out orders using his Sith Lord persona.
In 1947 Hungarian scientist Dennis Gabor first came up with a hologram concept while trying to improve the resolution of electron microscopes. Thirty-five years later, Lloyd Cross produced the first traditional hologram by using white-light transmission holography to recreate a moving 3D image.
However, it was not until 2010, where Hollow pyramid-shaped prisms were released into the consumer market to emulate a 3D image when placed on a flat-screen such as a smartphone.
Implanted Phone from Total Recall Reboot
While the 2012 reboot of Total Recall didn’t have Arnold Schwarzenegger, it definitely had many cool gadgets. Amongst them were the implanted phones, which they could use by simply touching the palm of their hands. Today we have companies like Sgnl that are making it possible.
They offer you a smart strap that enables you to make phone calls by simply placing your fingertip on your ear.
While their website shows that they still need funds from the supporting crowd to make this tech gadget a reality, some backers and supporters have already received the product’s early working model, albeit with discrepancies.
James Bond’s Invisible Car
In the 2002 spy film Die Another Day, the twentieth film in the James Bond series, actor Pierce Brosnan, playing the lead protagonist’s role, was shown driving an invisible Martin V12 Vanquish.
Nearly a decade later, Mercedes-Benz delivered something truly fantastic to reiterate the notion with their unique twist. By 2010 Mercedes-Benz had begun its development of the F-Cell, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle and introduced them to the market through their B-Class model series.
In a marketing gimmick, they covered one of their cars with a panel of LED screens and a camera on the other side to imitate what an invisible car would truly feel like, and the response was outrageous.
People gathered around the car in groups and families’ simply going bonkers at what was standing in front of them. You can find the video on YouTube by simply searching “Mercedes-Benz Invisible Car”.
Real-Time Mapping Orb from Prometheus
A 2012 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, Prometheus is the fifth installment in the Alien franchise.
The movie was praised for its overall design and production value, and amongst many gadgets that sparked interest in the viewers, the real-time mapping orb was on a completely new level. This device was able to render a holographic map of everything it recorded within the vicinity.
Although something of this stature doesn’t exist yet, however Google Maps or, in particular, the Google Street View is a close alternative.
Google use this technology by sending out fleets of cars, bikes and snowmobiles to snap panoramic images of the surrounding landscape, offering almost a lifelike rendition of the holographic abilities shown by the gadget used in the movie.
Robotaxis from Total Recall
Another technological invention taken from Total Recall and included in this list is the Robotaxi. This was eventually going to happen, and in the UAE, Masdar City was quick to adopt the technology.
The robotaxis in Masdar City is known as automated podcars, and they service around 25,000 people in a month. These cars are developed by a Dutch company called 2GetThere.
This fleet of cars is an initiative taken by the UAE to provide its people with high-tech and sustainable public transportation. The system runs on a series of on-call and point-to-point transit cars that move on the main lines and intermediate stations so as to travel through the quickest routes to a destination.
Self-Tying Shoe Laces
In the movie “Back to the Future II”, the self-tying shoelaces amongst many other gadgets got the attention of viewers. While the movie was released back in 1989, it was in March 2016 when Nike first revealed their HyperAdapt 1.0 technology.
When you step into the shoes featuring this latest tech, a sensor detects your heal, enabling the system to tighten the shoe automatically. The shoes by Nike also offer a couple of buttons to tighten further or loosen the grip of the shoes.
However, as the name suggests, the adaptive lacing is programmed to adapt to the user’s need and therefore deliver by going beyond to provide personalized comfort levels. However, right now, the shoes offer a manual override mechanism, but the future is aimed at a more symbiotic relationship.
Smartphones from Star Trek
The Star Trek: The Original Series was released in 1966. By then, the concept of people using smartphone seemed far-fetched. The handset used by the characters in the series was called a ‘Tricoder’ and allowed for wireless communication over long distances.
The idea soon became a reality when, in 2006, BlackBerry phones quickly became popular using digital marketing tips. These phones were popular amongst business professionals who at that point could afford the luxury of paying the high cost of data plans with Wi-Fi capabilities.
However, in just about a year, Apple Computer introduced the iPhone featuring a 3.5″ capacitive touchscreen as well as introducing the multi-touch to phones.
Smartwatches from the Jetsons
An American animated sitcom produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, The Jetsons first aired in September 1962. It showed a comical version of a century in the future with elaborate robotic contraptions, whimsical inventions, and even aliens living in human society.
However, the ability to speak into one’s watch was definitely one of the few gadgets that got everyone’s attention. While the first digital watch came into existence soon after 1972, in June 2000, IBM was the first company to showcase a prototype of a wristwatch that ran on Linux.
Many companies jumped in on the bandwagon, and by 2013 PHTL was the first to showcase their HOT Watch that features a speaker, microphone, and the ability to make or receive calls. However, by 2014 Apple also joined the fray and dished out their first smartwatch called the Apple Watch, and the rest, as we all know from there is history.
There are numerous other inventions that the movie and film industry inspired, and surprisingly they continue to do so still. I hope these inventions and their references made you feel excited about how our creative process and thinking lead to an invention that the masses can use regularly.
The future is indeed uncertain, and all we can do is cross our finger and hope for the best. After all, flying cars may be just around the corner. That is it for now. Let’s see where our imagination and human ingenuity takes us next.