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We accelerate into the future at the rate of 1 second per second.

October 23, 2008

Let me say this right from the start: I am a science fiction fan. I love the what-ifs and the visions of the future. I also love the marvelously imaginative technology that sci-fi writers have come up with. And if anyone out there is wondering when any of this will become reality, I say the wait is over. Modern technology has begun to catch up with the amazing creations of yesterday.

image from ubergizmo.com

image from ubergizmo.com

image from handcellphone.com

image from handcellphone.com

I would be utterly remiss if I didn’t start with Captain Kirk’s communicator. I’m sure we all can picture him grabbing it off his belt, flicking it open, and saying, “Kirk to Enterprise.” He’d even twiddle the knob on occasion when atmospheric interference created static on the line. Now of course we have flip phones. Our cell phones ring and we open them up to talk. Many models even have speakerphone capabilities so that we don’t have to hold them up to our ears. And we have bad reception as a matter of course.

Another thing Star Trek gave us is automatic sliding doors. Think for a moment of the times Captain Kirk visited sickbay or walked out of his quarters. All he did was approach and the doors would swish aside to let him pass. Today, we have automatic sliding doors in places like supermarkets, department stores, and libraries.

image from globalinxvoip.blogspot.com

image from globalinxvoip.blogspot.com

image from acnteamwork.com

image from acnteamwork.com

We all have met George Jetson and cringed with him when his boss, Mr. Spacely, called him on the phone to berate him. Poor George couldn’t even pretend he wasn’t in, because Mr. Spacely could see him clear as day over the video phone. We now have our very own video phones. And of course, I can’t help returning to Star Trek and Captain Kirk asking Lt. Uhura to open hailing frequencies to another ship. There on the main viewscreen would be the other party, larger than life and in full (I’m sure) stereophonic sound. And since the 1990s, businesses have been holding teleconferences over the Internet. Say konnichi-wa!

H. G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov, as well as the Jetsons, have used slidewalks (moving sidewalks) as modes of human conveyance. We don’t have these quite as widespread as they’d imagined, but they do show up in many airports.

In a 2000 TV spot for IBM, Avery Brooks wanted to know where the flying cars he’d been promised were. Well, Avery, I give you your flying cars. They’re prototypes and they’re expensive, but they are, in point of fact, existent.

image from en.wikipedia.org

image from en.wikipedia.org

image from amusitronix.com

image from amusitronix.com

The one thing from science fiction that intrigues me the most, however, is the holodeck, introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is a life-sized virtual environment in which anything can be created and interacted with. I dare say that we have at this moment the means to create a rather primitive holodeck. First, there exist games that blend the physical with the virtual, such as virtual baseball and virtual bowling, both of which have been at various GameWorks along with virtual martial arts. And then there’s a little something called Augmented Reality, which allows people to manipulate holograms in real space.

Now really, how cool is all that?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy Raz permalink
    October 24, 2008 8:56 am

    I was just thinking about the flying car thing the other day (while driving in gridlock). How appropriate that you should post this! Interesting.

  2. Travis Wright permalink
    July 18, 2010 9:37 pm

    iphone now has video conferencing. that is all. 😉

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