Especially for kids growing up with so much fascinating technology, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. A look into the past can often provide a sobering, humbling perspective on just how much we have accomplished, in a relatively short amount of time.
What follows is a short list of inventions that were first seen in science fiction and have, at least to some extent, become a reality by or before the year 2011. Enjoy, and prepare to have your mind blown.
In 1968, Stanley Kubrick released a vision of the future that shocked, confused, and generally amazed everyone who saw it—2001: A Space Odyssey. In it, there were many suggestions about what things would be like in the future, but not all of them have become a reality. One, however, has not only become a reality, but a consumer phenomenon: the iPad. The tablet like device does not play a significant role in the film, but if you watch closely as Dave Bowman and Frank Poole sit and eat while watching little screens on their table in the early part of the film (when the news report introduces HAL9000), you will see what could easily be mistaken for the recent, hugely successful tablet released by Apple.
The ability to talk to our friends, family, and colleagues from a great distance away with a portable device has been a science fiction fantasy since Star Trek. In today’s society however, the concept is as widely accepted as sliced bread, though people would laugh if you called it a hand-held communicator. Cell phones have made mobile communication a reality, and have succeeded so thoroughly that many people don’t even have land lines anymore. Beam me up, Scotty!
Another inheritance from Star Trek: a hands free communication device. Watching Nichelle Nichols hold her hand to her ear and talk with her shipmates far and away held audiences captivated. Today, Bluetooth headsets allow us to not only talk hands-free, but talk while driving, walking, eating, or doing anything else that normally would require us to get off the phone.
Motion Controlled Computer Interface
The phrase may be a mouthful, but think of the movie Minority Report and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. People everywhere drooled as Tom Cruise waved his hand and his computer screen responded. It was the coolest. Now, Microsoft has released the Kinect for the Xbox, which allows players to control their games in exactly the same way—to say nothing of the Wii, which did nearly the same thing years before.
The science fiction/comedy novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams includes a description of a fictional book with the same name. Reading that description, you may think to yourself, “Wow, this sounds an awful lot like a Kindle!” Basically, it’s an electronic book with no pages. If that doesn’t sound like a Kindle, I don’t know what does.
Whether or not the products described here were in fact derived from similar earlier devices from science fiction, we may never know, but one thing is for sure: at the rate we are going, there is much, much more science fiction that will be fact sooner than later.