Star Wars has been one of the biggest film franchises for decades now and its expansion into the realm of video games, books, toys, television shows, and even a Christmas special here and there have made it a timeless classic for anyone. The series has seen an incredible resurgence in popularity after the rights were bought by Disney who have proceeded to inject their theme parks with Star Wars fanfare and create a steady stream of films that come out year after year. This over-saturation of the franchise may be leading to some slightly smaller profits for the company, but it seems like there's always going to be fans clamouring for another entry into their beloved universe.
As we move further into 2018 and the new era as a whole, we are finally starting to see some technological advances that rival that of the Star Wars universe. Although we may not quite be at the level to do things like jump into hyperspace or use a lightsaber the same way they do in the movies, we are moving forward with useful technology in our own way. This collection looks at some Star Wars inventions that we have in our own world and some that are eerily similar, perhaps even somewhere on the horizon.
Although the Gungan race left many fans of the Star Wars series divided, or more appropriately, adamantly against Jar Jar Binks (even though he just might be a Sith Lord), one thing that was undeniably cool about the creatures was their habitat and the way it protected their race from predators. Their entire city was submerged underwater. Now in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn equipped an oral apparatus that allows them to breathe underwater without a scuba tank.
These rebreather pieces exist in our world too and work by extracting the unused oxygen from each breath and allowing the wearer to breathe that oxygen back in, thus extending their underwater lung capacity and breathing ability.
As soon as we know it, we'll be living underwater!
Droids are without a doubt one of my favorite parts of the Star Wars universe and they come in all shapes, sizes, and functionalities. The thought of having a robot companion, whether it be C-3PO or one of the show stealing droids from Rogue One or Solo, is a tempting premise. In today's world, the closest thing we have to a droid comes from the incredible scientists at Boston Dynamics who continually pushes the developmental envelope of what robotics can do.
From the speeder that we see Luke and Obi-Wan ride on while traversing the desert of Tattoiine to the one Rey rides while searching scrap heaps are not just fantasy anymore. There are several different companies working on this kind of hover-car technology that use large fans and other various kinds of motors and engines to create a levitating vehicle. It will probably be a good while before this tech becomes commercially useful and viable, but if Back to the Future taught us anything, it's to be careful when using them on the water.
Everyone's new favorite droid may seem like little more than a soccer ball with a half sphere for a head, but the functionality of a small companion droid like this has huge ramifications in the real world. As a matter of fact, the BB-8 prop used in the film was practical, meaning that it was a real physical ball being used in the filming process. While such a spherical companion might be a ways off, the use of a mobile "backpack" droid that can be used to store things like groceries and other heavy objects does exist and can help people carry things that they would otherwise have difficulty carrying for long distances.
Star Wars' brand of retro futurism has always been a cool aesthetic and one of the most notable forms of bionics in the films is the hand that replaces Luke Skywalker's organic hand in the original trilogy. After having it severed from his body by Darth Vader, Luke's hand is replaced with a fully functioning robotic hand that moves and reacts the same way a human hand would. This level of bionic engineering exists today and is becoming more widespread as the technology advances and becomes cheaper for the public.
The jet pack is one of the seminal pieces of science-fiction technology and is one of the most fascinating devices conceivable to man because it grants the deeply-rooted desire to soar like a bird high above the sky. And after seeing Boba Fett jettison through the sky, who wouldn't want something like that strapped to their back? Well, maybe the fear of a similar malfunction that landed Fett in the Sarlac Pit might deter some, but fear not, the tech is on the way and closer than you may think.
Currently, the safest form of flight comes in the form of the water jet pack that jettisons water out behind the wearer at such a force that they are lifted into the sky like Mario in Super Mario Sunshine.
There are even some fuel based packs, and more will be developed in the years to come.
I don't think any of us want to be frozen in carbonite a la Han Solo after his capture by Jabba the Hutt, but the science behind freeze preservation is not as scary as it seems. Science fiction often explains deep space travel via cryostasis and the concept is becoming more and more of a reality as the technology is further developed.
Just think of it in the same way you would when you freeze food for use later.
That preservation method is being tweaked so things can be preserved longer, safer, and more efficiently.
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope" is a line that will be forever cemented into cinema history and strikes a somber chord in the heart of any Star Wars fan. The projection of Princess Leia beamed from R2-D2 is still a fantasy in today's world, as reconstructing a 3D image in a non-flat space just isn't quite possible without the assistance of rotating blades to display a semi-holographic image or the illusion of one. There have been some advances made in this kind of technology, just look at the projection of Tupac in concert of the insanely popular Hatsune Miku.
The slime-ball that Rey sells her scavenged parts to in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens gives her payment in the form of "portions" that are usually divided into smaller quarter portions since he takes advantage of all the scavengers on the planet.Rey takes back a portion to her hollowed out, mechanical home and prepares it by adding water and watching it rise to create a loaf of bread instantly. Although the concept is sound in theory and the prop in the film was practical, we don't have the technology yet to make such an instant culinary creation. However, we do have instant foods, even though they're not exactly the healthiest thing.
Although our world has been able to clone animals from sheep to mice and even a few dogs, we have never attempted to clone another person, at least not to the extent that the characters in the Star Wars universe have. The moral and ethical dilemma that arises from such a conversation and undertaking is enough to make anyone's head spin and will probably never be something that is widely accepted or considered. At least not in today's day and age.
One of the coolest and arguably most underrated pieces of tech in the Star Wars universe is their minuscule communicator device that is able to translate different languages from across the galaxy as well as increase its user's hearing capability. The closest thing to this we have in the real world is a hearing aid, but currently, there are a few different tech startups and major companies that are working to create devices that listen to a language and translate the language into the wearer's native tongue, which is a very cool development for communication.
The cool sound of blasters and other laser cannons in the Star Wars universe are so universally known that almost anyone can distinguish the sound of a stormtrooper's blaster from that of a TIE fighter.
As we saw in The Force Awakens, even Kylo Ren is able to halt the movement of a pure laser beam with the use of the force.
This particle of concentrated light is deadly and leads to the downfall of so many across many books, films, and games. In our modern world, we don't have the capability to use lasers in such an immediate and destructive manner, but the technology is being further developed for things like precision surgery and other medical applications.
The thermal detonator is as common in the world of Star Wars as the hand grenade is in our modern society. If someone needs to make a quick distraction (like Han in the new Solo movie) or simply wants to destroy a building or some other destructive task, the thermal detonator is a no-brainer. The tech behind this is a small concentrated nuclear reactor that creates a huge concussive blast and obliterates anything in its radius. It's a force to be reckoned with (pun intended) and our real-world equivalent to this is truthfully non-existent in terms of a small nuclear device aside from our standard grenade. The closest thing we have would have to be the nuke launcher from the Fallout video game series.
One of the most memorable scenes for me as a kid was the chase through Endor on speeder bikes where Luke swerves between massive trees in an attempt to throw off the pursing Empire soldiers who proceed to smash into the trees which is arguably a better demise than one at the hands of the Ewoks. Although we currently do not have mass-produced vehicles capable of this kind of locomotion, there are replica speeder bikes in the form of customized motorcycles as well as some early developments of hovercraft tech that uses incredibly powerful fans to "levitate" the vehicles off the ground.
The ultimate power in any Sith Lord's arsenal is force lightning. This negative energy is fuelled by hatred and malice and inflicts incredible amounts of damage and pain on anyone or anything in its path.
You might not have known this but you can actually use force lightning in the real world without any hatred or malice in your heart.
In order to do this, find yourself some socks and a nice patch of carpet and proceed to create friction between the floor and your feet to build up your cache of lightning. Be careful though, it can be as unruly as it is entertaining.
Any respectable group in the Star Wars universe, whether it be the Rebels and the Empire or the First Order and the Resistance, are heavily reliant on their capabilities to win dogfights in space and on planets in different systems. Whosoever rules the space beyond a planet's atmosphere can exert their power and rule over just about anyone and use that to leverage power.
Our real-world space capability is still in a very early infancy stage and we're lucky to have been to the moon.
The newest advent in space tech we have seen recently was SpaceX being able to land their rockets after being launched into space instead of having them crash back into Earth. Only time will tell how much more developed these technologies will become.
The very first scene in the original Star Wars film shows the incredible and epic scale of the Star Wars universe and just how imposing and threatening the Empire can be. The small Rebel cruiser is immediately overshadowed by the Imperial Star Destroyer that is able to easily overtake the ship and use its tractor beam to pull them in for questioning, or in the case of the film, complete annihilation. The use of such tech in our world on a large scale/distance is still a mere concept, but with the laws of gravitation and magnetism, it isn't hard to imagine that some form of a tractor beam to a scale like this isn't far off.
Growing up, one of my favorite droids in the Star Wars series was the Droideka. It was one of the most versatile droids in the movies in my opinion, being able to move with ease by rolling up into a ball form and then set itself up as a sentry turret by unfurling itself and using its arm mounted blasters. As if that wasn't already threatening enough, the droid is also able to deploy a shield that encases it in a bubble and protects it from incoming fire.
This energy shield is still a foreign sci-fi concept to us, but some researchers have looked into the use of plasma as a shield barrier,
although the research shows that the shield would work both ways, so it can't be hit, but it also would be unable to fire back from the inside of the shield.
Artificial intelligence is one of the key centerpieces to science fiction. The idea that a machine or computer program could be capable of acting independently and forming its own thoughts, actions, and conclusions based on simulation analysis is as impressive as it is intimidating. The Star Wars universe seems to have created a cooperative relationship between human and android as the two entities work together often as partners to complete a common goal or mission. In our world, AI is developing constantly, whether it be in the form of human like androids or a CGI program that creates instagram posts for a non-human account. It seems that for now, R2-D2 may be light years away.
This is the holy grail of science fiction inventions and has been the dream of arguably just about anyone who has ever seen or even heard of a Star Wars film. The thought of using an energy sword of such incredible strength and power is a daunting and intimidating thought to wield something so destructive. That may just be the reason we don't have real lightsabers, but that hasn't stopped millions from buying replicas and plenty of others attempt to create the real thing.
In the film, the lightsaber uses a crystal and other technical aspects to power the sword and if the development of the real-world one ever comes to fruition, it would use precise, concentrated light/energy to create a beam.
The difficulty comes in sustaining something like this as well as limiting its power.
Previously, we discussed the use of laser technology as a means of medical use and its capabilities there. However, here we are going to look at the more military applications of such technology and how it could develop over time. There have been countless YouTube videos that show how a powerful laser is able to melt certain metals or how a directed laser can pop a balloon at long distance, so while the technology may still be in its infancy, its development is coming along at a steady pace.
One of the most technically-impressive feats in terms of special effects from the original Star Wars films was the way in which the Millennium Falcon and other spaceships were able to make the jump to hyperspace to travel incredible distances of space in a short amount of time. This level of technology is probably one of the most far-off developments that we have in our current day and age, but who knows, perhaps someone thousands of years from now will see this post while they wait for their hyperspace navigation to finish its course.
Space elevators are one of the more idealistic creations that wait on our technological horizon. The concept of a space elevator is that it alleviates the need or use for rockets and lifts the components for a space station, whether for construction or sustainment, via a gigantic vertical structure similar to the lifts used on The Wall in Game of Thrones. There has never been much development in this field, but its a promising and environmentally-minded option compared to other methods of space travel and exploration.
Using one's mind to control things telekinetically is something that humans have always dreamed of for an incredibly long time. It gives us the idea that we can control things outside of ourselves and that is one of the reasons the Force is such an alluring concept in the films. The current development we have in our society today is in the world of bionics. People who have lost a limb are conditioned with their new prosthetic by being separated from it and sending impulses from their brain of the thought of closing and opening a hand for example. The bionic apparatus then learns these specific brain patterns and adapts to its user, allowing for more advanced bionics like you see in Luke's robotic hand.
The Gungan underwater city was a cool set piece in the prequel series, even if Star Wars fans didn't enjoy the prequels overall because it took the series underwater to an unexplored part of their world when compared to space, showing some awesome creatures and monsters. The concept of an underwater city is most notable from the videogame Bioshock which is set in a dystopian underwater metropolis. In our real world, there are plenty of hotels that draw customers in with promises of underwater views, but even these are relatively close to the water's surface when compared to the cities of the Star Wars universe.
Proton torpedoes are another example of incredibly-destructive weaponry that we do not currently possess. The use of these missiles in the movies often leads to gigantic explosions, like the Death Star for example. This whole section leads into our next topic on heads-up displays as well, so the two are very interconnected. In the scene where Luke destroys the Death Star, he ignores his HUD and uses the Force to push the torpedoes down to blow up the station. Currently, there are some tools that can alter course mid-flight so that's probably as close to the proton torpedo as we'll get.
The heads-up display is a central part of the Star Wars universe as it helps pilots lock onto their targets and also take in other information and elements about their ships without ever having to look away from the cockpit or maneuver around the cabin.
This is an integral key to survival and is one that is slowly working its way into our real world.
Heads-up displays are becoming more and more common in automobiles as the speedometer and other information about the car's systems is being projected on to the lower part of the windshield. This is a cause for concern from some regarding distracted driving, so it will be important to find the balance between transparency and utility as time and the technology progresses and grows.
One of my favorite scenes in the Han Solo spinoff movie was the scene that took place on the levitating cargo train that Han, Chewbacca, and the other thieves attempt to steal.
The train travels through a mountain range on an elevated train track that utilizes incredible magnetic strength to secure the train to the track without it actually touching the rail.
Although this kind of technology is nowhere near this advanced, there have been breakthroughs in this field on a small scale that will hopefully lead to a safe and secure development of this new technology.
In the first Star Wars film that came out, Luke and his remaining family survive on the desert planet Tatooine by utilizing a special technique of crop cultivation known as moisture farming.
In doing this, they are able to harvest what little water they can from their environment to grow crops and sustain themselves and their business,
well at least for the first act of the film until disaster strikes. The real-world equivalent to this are 20-foot tall structures that draw water from the air for its users to collect and utilize. The technology still needs to be refined and perfected in order to become more efficient and hopefully isn't in a galaxy far far away.
One of the cool things about the Star Wars universe and series of films is that it is never confined to just one planet. The galaxy is huge and has a sprawling ecosystem of different planets and species that inhabit them.
Scientists on Earth have found that there are other habitable planets in our galaxy that could support life, meaning that once space travel becomes a more common practice, we could see the travel to these other places become commonplace.
It makes one feel small to think about something as massive as jumping between planets, but it is also a point of incredible wonder and imagination that something like this may someday be possible.
References: time.com, techtimes.com, imdb.com, thenewyorke