Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Awesome Ways Movies Predicted Future Technology

The future has arrived... and it looks oddly like an eighties film. Despite the fact that a quarter of a century after Back To The Future, we still do not have hoverboards, flying cars, or cold fusion, a lot of modern ingenuity has yielded results that look, well, pretty much like the movies we grew up with.

Here a few of the more brilliant future predictions from films of previous decades.

The Roomba

Predicted by: Star Wars, The Fifth Element

Oh, the mind-blowing, fantasy-inducing concept of sitting back with a cold one while a robot cleans your kitchen for you! When Zorg leans back in his chair and ruminates on the beauty of his robotic cleaning appliances, it's hard to disagree. Also hard to disagree with is the sort of elephant worm-baby he keeps as a pet.


Elephant aside, it seems we didn't need to wait until the year 2263 for some tech geeks to put the ultimate human fantasy into motion. Product: the Roomba. A freaking robot that cleans your freakin' house, while you sit back with a cold one.
Guaranteed not to overthrow the universe.

Robotic Limbs

Predicted by: Star Wars, Cyborg, The Six Million Dollar Man

Recent advances in prosthetics have yielded replacement limbs so cool as to almost take the sting out of losing a limb in the first place.

A good sense of humour can also go a long way towards this end.

But seriously, behold the beauty that is the myoelectric limb:

These nifty devices operate using myoelectrography - that is, sensors attached to the remaining limb interpret output from voluntary muscle movements. You might not have a forearm anymore, but you have muscles in your upper arm that would have controlled its movements. The prosthesis extrapolates what your forearm or hand would be doing when those muscles are moved, and moves the prosthesis accordingly. The most recent models allow complex movements of the fingers and thumb, allowing for rotation and adjustment of grip, giving users a fairly good approximation of normal hand movement.

You can even get a fancy cover for these prosthetics, called a cosmesis, which approximates the appearance of normal human skin. Copy and paste the link below for some great images of just how realistic this can look, as well as an enthusiastic testimonial from a user.

Neural Prostheses

Predicted by: Johnny Mnemonic, The Matrix

Ok, it doesn't really look like that. It looks much more like this:

Pictured: Less frightening

Fortunately, the 90's shocker that was "Johnny Mnemonic" predicted the technology but not the application. Rather than nefarious purposes such as information-smuggling, modern medicine employs these implants for things made of sheer awesome, such an enabling deaf people to hear again. Oh, and speaking of sheer awesome, did I mention that these devices are basically computer chips that are configured to fit into and work with your brain, replacing damaged or impaired neural networks?

With these types of advances, it's only a matter of time before we can download Ju-Jitsu straight into our skulls.

And, presumably, stop bullets while looking like a stone-cold douchebag.


Predicted by: Blade Runner, Alien

The Japanese android or "actroid" DER-01 contains 47 moveable joints, and is capable not only capable of performing complex hand and foot movements, but mimicking a range of facial expressions.

In a really non-convincing way.

Potential uses for this type of android have not been clearly articulated - they don't really need to be, as most tech-geeks are happy enough just to stare at the thing in wonder, and ruminate on how much it might cost to buy one. My personal prediction is that they end up somewhere between interpreter droids and sexbots:

We are already frightening close on this score.

Any others?