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7 times science fiction intersected with reality

Technology will soon advance beyond the limits set by today’s standards. Have you ever watched a movie or read a novel that gave a rush of excitement or a plethora of ideas bursting into your head? If so, then this article is for you. Science fiction has always inspired real-life advancements in technology.

On a lookout for signs that show a distant but very much possible vision of a future, this article opens up several interesting avenues for you to explore.


Holograms

From 1984 Star Wars Princess Leia to the recent 2021, Spider-man: No Way Home, where Peter Parker donned a portable holographic belt, holograms have been around for a while.

Holograms are three-dimensional models of an object. They are made up of light particles that can be cloned by a laser. This laser projects multiple light beams to produce a digital model that can be viewed without glasses from every angle.

The Microsoft Hololens 2 | Source: Microsoft

Usage

Holograms have recreated historical figures, like actors or musicians and in virtual reality games. There are two ways to create a hologram: by a computer or using optics. With a computer, you can create augmented reality.

A good example is Microsoft’s HoloLens, which imports 3D objects to your surroundings via a pair of virtual reality glasses. Holograms can be used in medical fields to plan surgeries, marketing, education, and security.

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have developed a device that reads radiation given by a WiFi router to scan and create a holographic projection. This will be extremely useful during earthquakes to locate people trapped under fallen buildings.

Also read: Top 11 Gadgets to boost productivity


Tricorders

From the Star Trek TV series, it is a portable device carried by every doctor to take vital scans and analyse and record data. It can diagnose problems and provide solutions.

Since then, the medical community has succeeded in making a close-enough prototype undergoing tests. Called DxtER, it is a medical kit with a digital stethoscope, an EKG sensor, a spirometer that measures lung function, and a finger probe to measure glucose, white blood cell count, and other blood tests.

A replica of the Star Trek tricorder. | Image by Keith Survell via Flickr

There are also other health scanners currently on the market that give blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, core body temperature and hydration levels. Medical tricorders will help save a lot of people in a very cost-effective way.


Exosuits

Generally known as powered-armour suits, they are seen in Iron Man (2008), Avatar (2009), Aliens (1986), and Starship troopers (1997). The concept of exoskeletons or exosuits has been shown in a lot of science fiction movies and novels. Being militarised is one of those concepts, on top of helping people with muscular deformities wear soft exosuits.

Sarcos Guardian XO | Source: Sarcos Robotics

Companies like Ekso Bionics, are aiming to increase endurance by augmenting human potential and overcoming immobility caused by medical conditions. On the other hand,

Sarcos Robotics is producing exoskeletons to take over human labour and enhance the way humans work. They have a wide range of Guardian products, including the Guardian XO., a battery-powered suit that combines human intellect with machine-like precision.

Also read:: Are Humanoid Robots a good idea? What does the future hold?


Jetpacks

Whether it was watching Marty McFly in Back to the Future, the Star Wars franchise or Marvel’s Iron Man and Falcon, operating a jetpack have been a dream for many.

Jetpacks have been hovering around since 1928; ever since then, many tried and tested inventions have been made. Notable ones include NASA’s breakthrough with the Manned Manoeuvring Unit in 1984 which allowed an astronaut to venture further from the space station.

Jetpack Aviations currently functioning jetpacks. | Source: Jetpack Aviation

Today, multiple Jetpack inventions later, you can buy your own jetpack at Jetpack Aviation or Gravity Industries. A jetpack can have multiple uses, from personal to military. Flyboard air is another invention by Zapata racing that combines the awesomeness of jetpacks with hoverboards. The company also provides other thrust-inducing joyrides for both air and water.


Metaverse

The metaverse is a three-dimensional virtual space that allows users to interact with each other, play games and explore multiple worlds. Neal Stephenson’s novel, Snow Crash, and Ernest Cline’s work, Ready Player One, are good examples to help you understand the concept of the metaverse.

Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook, now called Meta, seeks to build this metaverse under his company. According to him, the metaverse will overtake the internet and produce an immersive user experience.

Meta’s prototype microfluidic haptic glove

While metaverse is still a decade or two away from perfection, concerns regarding anything new are natural. Will our future be so bleak that the only way to survive and mentally cope would be a virtual escape? Will we give away our privacy? However, there will also be a boon of opportunities that benefit everyone. Sir Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”


Drone-taxis

Another exciting example of Vertical Lift Take-Off (VTOL) in addition to jetpacks is Volocopter. A company that is making drone or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) taxis offering urban air mobility. They offer drones to drone taxis, which can be booked online and taken from Voloports. An entire ecosystem is built around drones and a network for their safe travel; they work on electric power.

Volocopter aims to run autonomous air taxis. | Source: Volocopter

Unlike the drones in Blade Runner 2049, which are used for surveillance and killing, eVTOL provides easy accessibility and safety. They are planning to launch commercial flights in Singapore and Paris by 2024.


Light Sabers

This might seem more hypothetical; however, when in the world of science fiction, imagination is the limit. Built by Hacksmith Industries, a YouTube channel, they made the world’s first retractable lightsaber. Armours shown in Dune, written by Frank Herbert, can deflect high energy or velocity projectiles, that is, bullets.

Such armour can be penetrated using lightsabers if they are ever manufactured. However, if they aren’t, lightsabers from the Star Wars franchise are a cool enough gadget to be built regardless.

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