People love science fiction, whether it's found in books, movies or television. Star Wars has graced movie theaters for decades while the uber popular Stark Trek has reigned supreme on our small screens with its original series as well as spinoffs including Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation
However, Star Trek isn’t the only popular science fiction show. Dr. Who, The Jetsons and Futurama are just three more examples of popular science fiction TV shows that have withstood the test of time and are worshiped by fanboys everywhere.
One of the reasons why science fiction is so great and interesting is that the writers often do research to see if certain technologies could become available in the future. This is why, for example, so many technologies that are available today were featured in Star Trek.
Though many technologies featured in science fiction shows are still not available (like teleportation, good luck cracking that nut), science fiction has actually foretold many everyday, and not-so everyday items. As technology continues to advance, mankind should see more and more inventions that were once thought to only belong in the realm of science fiction. The following is a list of 10 technologies foretold by the greatest science fiction shows to ever hit the television screen.
Androids were foretold in numerous sci-fi shows; Star Trek: The Next Generation features Data, an android star-fleet lieutenant. The hit animated comedy Archer also features androids: Archer’s dead wife Katya is turned into an android after her death.
Believe it or not, the technology for androids has actually arrived. On April 20th of 2015, the android Chihira Aiko, created by Toshiba, made her debut working as a receptionist for the Mitsukoshi department store in Nihonbashi. The robot has the appearance of a 32 year old woman: it can cry, talk, sing, gesture, and communicate in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English and Japanese sign language.
The technology was developed by professor Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University’s Department of Systems Innovation. He revealed his stunning technology in June of 2014, at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, with the robots Octonaroid and Kodomorid, an adult female android and a child female android.
Needle-less vaccines and remedies were featured in the original Star-Trek series as well as in its spinoffs. In the TV shows, a small pump was used on the patient’s skin to treat their ailment or as a vaccine.
Today, such technology actually exists and is safer than traditional needle-needing vaccines. The real world applicator is called a jet injector. It works by using a high amount of air pressure to force a hypospray injection (a type of liquid medicine) deep enough into the patient’s skin so that the body can absorb it.
The TV show Futurama features numerous robots that can think and act for themselves; one of them is even a protagonist, Bender. According to The Independent, researchers have developed a robot that can independently learn without any human intervention, through trial and error.
The system software algorithms named Deep Q-network can play 49 classic Atari games, and earn high scores all on its own. Deep Q-network can play multiple games without having to be pre-proggramed to play it. Of course, having a computer that can play video games is not exactly useful; however, Demis Habbis, a neuroscientist, claims the ultimate goal is to build a robot that is built smart and can accomplish general purposes.
Jetpack technology has been foretold in TV sci-fi shows such as the Jetsons. In actuality, the technology for jetpacks has been around for quite a while, it’s just that it's not safe or practical.
For example, the Tam Rocket Belt Jetpack can only fly for a total of 33 seconds and has a top speed of 70 mph. However, the first commercially available (and practical) jetpack will go on sale in late 2016 for $150 000, sold by Martin Aircraft.
Bionic body parts have been seen in television shows like Archer, which features a few cyborg characters as well as characters that have cyborg body parts. The technology of bionic body parts is closer than people think and may in fact already be here.
Scientists are currently working on metallic exoskeletons to help people regain mobility, and have already created a working bionic eye: the Second Sight’s Argus II (which was approved by the FDA in 2013). The Argus II can give sight to people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (a disease which has been diagnosed in more than two million people world wide so far).
Voice activated computers were featured in Star-Trek: The Next Generation, where members of the crew could control the ship’s computer by simply saying “computer” and then giving it a command.
Voice recognition technology has actually been around for a while. You may remember video games that allowed you to speak into a microphone to control the game (for example, Nintendo’s Hey You, Pikachu!). You may also remember how terrible and frustrating the technology was as it constantly malfunctioned.
Over recent years, voice command has drastically improved and may soon be a primary mode of controlling your computer. Windows 7, for example, has a built in voice-command, as do certain phones, ipods and the new Ubi computer.
Cloning is a common concept in science fiction. In the TV show Futurama, professor Farnsworth makes a clone (named Cubert) out of a growth on his back since he does not have any children but wants to pass down his legacy.
Cloning can actually occur in nature (for example, identical twins) and can also be artificially created in a lab. There are two ways to make clones artificially: the first is through artificial embryo twinning, which artificially makes twins out of an embryo. The second is more complicated and is called somatic cell nuclear transfer: it was used in the famous case of Dolly the Sheep.
Video calling, such as Skype or Facetime, has been foretold by numerous sci-fi shows including Star-Trek, Futurama and The Jetsons. Most people today use Skype for video calling and when the connection isn’t terrible, it actually works fairly well.
Video calling is great to see your friends or family that are far away, or to get work done with your colleagues. It even allows you to feel like you're with your loved one even when you're not. Skype was used when a soldier’s wife was giving birth to allow the father who was stationed overseas to still witness the birth of his child.
The famous Star Trek communicators from the original series are basically flip phones. When the series first debuted in the '60s, the technology of their communicators looked incredible as cellphones did not exist.
Today, people take that technology for granted, wanting their phones not only to be able to call people but to text, surf the web, play music and do a number of other things. Modern day cell phone technology has actually surpassed those featured in Start Trek, and continues to improve. It will be interesting to see how far cellphones will advance in the future.
Housework: the bane of every household. It is only logical that sci-fi would feature a way to simplify housework, especially when it comes to vacuuming: dust everywhere, annoying wires that are not long enough, as well as nooks and crannies that are hard to access.
The Jetsons had an automatic vacuum cleaner, and now so can you (although unfortunately it can’t talk). iRobot created a vacuum cleaning robot that moves all by itself without you having to control it in anyway. Their latest vacuum, the Roomba, as it is called, can clean carpets and floors without a problem, so you can have more time do more important stuff (like watch Star Trek or Futurama).