“A Trip to the Moon” was released in 1902 and was one of the first if not the first science fiction movies. In it a group of scientists are shot out of a cannon the size of World War II railway gun “Schwerer Gustav” right into the eye of the moon. The scientists explore the moon and even have an encounter with the moon’s inhabitants. It wasn’t until 1969 that Neal Armstrong would actually step foot on the moon. I’m sure that in 1902 a trip to the moon in the literal sense was an incomprehensible journey. It took 67 years for the movie to become a reality when Armstrong took his first step—and that giant leap for mankind.
Let’s take a look back at what other movie tech was far-fetched for the time but has become a reality today.
Although the 1980’s television series “Knight Rider” only lasted four seasons, KITT—the crime-fighting talking car—has since become a pop culture icon. It’s said that KITT contained a cybernetic processor that was created by the U.S. government but was then used in the iconic Pontiac Trans Am. Comparable to KITT’s capabilities is Apple’s CarPlay, which allows drivers to interact with Siri. Because of cloud computing, the processor can reside in a data center far away and isn’t required in the car. With the introduction of self-driving cars and the great strides that AI has made, look for a real KITT in the near future.
And let’s not forget about the Batmobile! If I had a bank account similar to Bruce Wayne’s (aka Batman), I would definitely fund the research for a few of those cool toys that he relies on, especially the Batmobile. Think of the convenience of having a car pick you up at the airport terminal rather than trying to remember where you parked it in the acres and acres of parking lot. That idea may not be so far-fetched. The Audi A7 is a prototype that is essentially waiting to go through a few legal hurdles before it can be released. Using sensors, cameras and GPS, the car can navigate itself through your daily commute and can even pick you up. Right off the bat you may need a few bucks from your rich Uncle Bruce, but as with all new technology, such a car should be affordable in a few short years.
Although Alderaan—the fictional “Star Wars” planet—wouldn’t be excited for this new advancement in technology, the U.S. Navy has developed a “directed-energy weapon,” otherwise known as LaWS. LaWS is a defense system that the Navy uses to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—otherwise known as drones—and small boats. It’s less expensive and faster than using guns or missile systems and minimizes collateral damage. The system focuses six high-energy lasers on the target—much like the Death Star did in “Star Wars” to blow up Alderaan.
I am Iron Man!!! Or at least I wish I could be. Although Iron Man is a fictional superhero, the U.S. military has been working on a usable, non-clunky, exoskeleton for its soldiers during combat. Tony Stark would be impressed by the recent advancements in exoskeleton technology, which has allowed these exo suits to become a reality, even if only in experimental form. In 2010, defense contractor Raytheon demonstrated XOS 2, which is essentially a robot guided by the human brain. This suit allowed the user to lift two to three times as much weight than what the user could have without the suit. Exo suits can also be used to protect soldiers from shrapnel and bullets. These suits will not only help us feel more super-heroish, they will also allow people with spine injuries or muscle-deteriorating diseases to get around easier.
The future is exciting and the sky is the limit when it comes to advancements in technology. Send us your thoughts on what you would like to see down the road.