It had to be done. This is a Science Fiction fan site for people that think, so…Here’s a run down of the Top 10 science fiction technologies that, as of this writing, have become very real -
10. Drones. Everyone knows about the use of drones at this point. Drones do surreptitious surveillance and rocket bad guys day and night in military hotspots around the world. So, no news there. Did you know…though…that as of 2007 remote controlled drones the size of mosquitoes were on offer? Yeah. These things not only take pictures and record conversations…they can carry payloads a la Hunter-Killer bots in Dune or seek you out and end you like the damned orb in Phantasm. Needless to say, the ability of one of these things..that looks like a fly…to deliver a virus or poison is probably the least of the things to worry about. It doesn’t take a lot of creativity to see that they could also be used to deploy viruses or take DNA samples…
9. Replicator. 3D printers anyone? You can print in plastic, metal or human tissue. Everything from cute plastic toys and guns to complete houses and human organs are being printed now. Not only do these things exists…you can buy or build your own for about $2000.
8. PADD. Trek fans will recognize this as the Personal Access Display Device and we would recognize them as smartphones and tablets. These ubiquitous devices are now the basis for entire curricula in school systems and are being tied in to everything from home automation to business presentations.
7. Electric Cars. Say what you will about electric cars, but know that the Tesla Model S was voted Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2013. Haters gonna hate…the rest of us will just go buy one of the things and zip around quietly whilst saving money on gas…
6. Bionic Limbs. Recently a consortium of scientists, doctors, and US Army procurement types produced (As in installed and tested) a real, honest to goodness, bionic limb controlled by the human brain. While we are a long way from turning into the Iron Hands from Warhammer 40k, the technology now exists to really help millions of disabled persons to walk again. There are similar advancements with arms and hands…some even controlling these limbs wirelessly…at a distance. While stuff like this makes me want to go all Otto Octavius and tinker with Arduino to build a shield to run my very own multiarm bionic harness, it really is neat to think that folks that need these prosthetics will soon be able to acquire limbs that function in a near normal state and really improve quality of life for those in need.
5. Artificial Sight. The US Department of Energy received a thumbs up from FDA in early 2013 for an artificial retina technology that has restored 90% visual acuity to persons not previously having sight. This device implants a set of electrodes directly to the brain and sends signals to the brain from a glasses mounted camera. This technology isn’t all the way there, yet…but 50 or so patients have been installed with the devices (in US and Europe –where human testing started as early as 2011) and refinements are being made based on feedback to advance the already successful technology even farther.
4. Transparent Metal. It is called Aluminum Oxynitrate and the stuff is bad ass. This material, a clear, transparent metal , is being tested by the US Air Force as a potential replacement material for fighter jet canopies. Proof of efficacy? The stuff shrugs off direct impact from .50 caliber machine gun. That’s serious tough.
3. Holographic Displays. Everyone from Tony Stark in the Iron Man/Avengers movies to Tom Cruise in Minority Report have had a go at holographic displays. The good news is that the things are real…and they are not just being deployed in fighter jets as HUD displays…but in 2013 Model Year civilian vehicles. In cars, the technology shows speed and compass based navigation in a manner that reduces/removes the driver’s need to take eyes off of the road to look at dashboard. (I'm holding out for Dejarik tables!)
2. Exoskeleton Armor. Speaking of Iron Man…we have to call it and say that real life Iron Man suits are not that far off. The technology now exists (it existed in the early 90s, actually) to build a bullet proof suit with a man-amplification exoskeleton. Raytheon’s Sarcos is something very similar to this already. Limiting factors being size/weight of requisite cooling system and battery. The military, who are chomping at the bit for these suits, will likely remain at an interested distance until their requirement for the suit to operate continuously for eight hours is met.
1. Jet Packs. Starship Troopers and Blood Angel Assault Marines rejoice, a real full on personal flight device is now available. Martin Aircraft and Aeronautics of New Zealand has produced a personal lift system that can take a man 5000 ft into the air and zip said person around in the skies for about 30 minutes in duration. This device even has FAA clearance for testing. Truth is, it really isnt’ a jet pack but more like maneuverable lift fans, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. We can expect the military and first responders to have first crack at this technology in 2014 and then commercial versions being released in 2015.
To be sure, there are other cool technologies out there that people will shout 'What about the Invisible Cloak/Cloaking device that is circulating, the various advances in Quantum Computing, the NASA guys that have set off to develop a Faster Than Light Drive and so forth? Why aren't those and countless other pet favorites in the list? Well, mostly because I had just ten slots and didn't pick them. LOL.
I can get out of that limitation a bit by asking, if you could add to the list - what would you add and why?