Fiction is often intended to portray the fantastic, no matter how far beyond reality it may seem to the audience; yet imaginary technologies (and even magic) can sometimes make an appearance off the screen or out of the pages. Here is a list of six incredible creations from various fictional media that have popped up in the real world.
- Holographic Interfaces
The ability to manipulate information without the need for screens, buttons or pointers has been a strong visual representation of advanced technology, such as seen in the movies Minority Report and the Iron Man trilogy. Today, companies like Displair and AirBar offer similar capability, and it’s even being incorporated into vehicles.
- Detection Senses
In both comics and film adaptations, the character of Spider-Man has a gift called “Spider Sense” that warns him of impending danger, allowing him to react with superhuman speed and agility. The aptly named SpiderSense suit is a step in the same direction, with over a dozen sensors using physical feedback to provide warning when something enters the wearer’s range.
- Invisibility and Stealth
The ability to pass unseen has been a staple in many types of fiction, from the hard science of ship cloaking technology in Star Trek, to the magical properties of an Invisibility Cloak in the Harry Potter book series. Moving beyond the radar-refracting method used by stealth aircraft, material like Quantum Stealth and lenses such as this paraxial ray optic are getting close to invisibility as perceived by the naked eye.
- DNA Nanobots
In the television series Red Dwarf, the artificially intelligent Nanos have the capability of rebuilding the entire ship and even resurrecting dead crew members who’d been turned to dust. While obviously real nanotechnology isn’t up to par of reversing death, it’s still being applied for medical uses, such as being programmed to locate and destroy cancerous cells, detecting tumors, delivering insulin to diabetics, or helping to mend nerve damage. Following successful trials on cockroaches, human clinical trials are planned as the next step.
- Medical Scanner
A mainstay in the various Star Trek television series, the medical tricorder instantly provides a wealth of vital statistics, diagnosis information, and treatment suggestions all with a simple scan.
A California company has begun marketing the Scanadu Scout with the intention of being the ultimate non-invasive health tool, with the handheld device capable of measuring temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and other vitals simply by being placed against a person’s temple.
- Hover Transportation
As another concept that has its place in all kinds of media, personal hovering transportation has been written about for over a century. Whether seen in The Jetsons, as part of the Back to the Future films, or in the Star Wars franchise, this has been something that people have been eager to reproduce. A fully functional version has been made by Arx Pax, called the Hendo Hoverboard uses a technology called “magnetic field architecture,” using opposing magnetic fields to generate its lift. While current applications are for small, personal use, its creators have speculated that it could even be applied to houses and other structures in the future. Separately, hoverbikes are also being developed as a practical and most cost-efficient replacement for helicopters, using similar rotor structures.