The future is now! Well, at least, it basically is, with so many insanely futuristic technologies swirling around us every day, many straight out of our favorite childhood movies and TV shows. Sure, “Back To The Future” got a few things right, but what about the other shows out there that blew our young minds with their seemingly impossible visions of life in the future?
Hold onto your wearables, because we’ve partnered with eBay to bring you nine amazing futuristic technologies promised in your childhood that you can actually pick up today.
1. Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio.
Talk about being ahead of the curve, this all-American classic comic strip about a masterful police detective and his highly advanced spy gizmos featured one mind-blowing gadget that now resembles today’s Apple Watch. Tracy’s wrist radio -- which was upgraded to a wrist TV in 1964 -- became an immediate icon of the series, and may have inspired today’s smartwatches.
2. KITT’s voice navigation.
Premiering in 1982, the TV series “Knight Rider” featured KITT, a self-aware A.I. sports car with voice-navigation technology. Though groundbreaking for its time, today we all have GPS technology in our pockets with apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps Connect. But, if you’re looking to relive the magic that was the William Daniels and David Hasselhoff duo, there’s now an authentic “Knight Rider”–inspired GPS -- complete with KITT’s original voice.
3. The A.I. technology in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Stanley Kubrick’s epic science-fiction film got a lot of things right about life in the new millennium, like digital newspapers, its depiction of futuristic space flight and, most notably, its prediction of human-like artificial intelligence. Hal 9000, the sentient computer that controls the Discovery One’s systems, arguably influenced today’s A.I. technologies like Siri and Cortana. (Here’s hoping Siri and Cortana would actually open the pod doors for us.)
4. Zenon’s hologram technology.
We would be terribly remiss to not shout out to one of Disney’s most iconic originals. Released in 1999, “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century” got a lot right about life in the future, like our love of top knots; long-distance, face-to-face communication; and our obsession with skin-hugging leggings. It also predicted the rise of hologram-like CGI technology -- the same kind used for Tupac’s groundbreaking 2012 Coachella show with Snoop Dogg, and Michael Jackson’s earth-shattering performance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards -- as seen when Zenon’s professor holograms ('grams?) in for class. Today you can even make your own hologram kit to see the technology for yourself.
5. The Jetsons’ cleaning robot, Rosie.
Type As, rejoice! We’ve long awaited our very own Rosie from “The Jetsons,” ever since Jane brought her home in the 1962 series premiere. Looks like the clean-freak gods heard our wishes: though iRobot’s Roomba has been a household name for years, Dyson has also recently released its own robot vacuum, named 360 Eye, into the Japanese market.
6. The Enterprise’s replicator.
Though the replicator on “Star Trek” went through a range of developments over the franchise’s many series and prequels, the mechanics stayed the same: a device capable of creating, replicating and synthesizing objects, particularly food. It may be a little while longer until we’re able to shout “Hot plain tomato soup!” at a machine and have it served up instantly, but we can come pretty close with today’s 3-D printers and food printers.
7. “Expert” glasses.
The 1960s British science-fiction TV show “Joe 90” featured a young boy who turned spy with the help of his father’s invention: a technology capable of turning anyone into an expert by transferring information from one human brain to another through electrodes in glasses. Eyewear isn’t quite able yet to transfer knowledge and experiences, but we are able to become experts in the, er, blink of an eye with inventions like Google Glass.
8. The biometric technology of “B.T.T.F. II.”
That scene in “Back To The Future II” where old Biff pays for a taxi with nothing more than his fingerprint? Well, we might need a bit more than just our prints to pay for things these days, but not much more. With today’s biometric technologies, like Samsung’s fingerprint scanning capabilities; Apple Pay, which can be accessed at the scan of a finger; and PayPal Touch, we’re able to access our phones, tablets, digital wallets and much more with the tap of a finger.
9. Dr. McCoy’s medical tricorder.
One of the most enviable gadgets from the original “Star Trek” series was the tricorder, a hand-held device used to scan unknown areas for unseen dangers while recording and storing data. Similarly, the medical tricorder recorded bodily statistics and scanned for diseases and other maladies. Point-and-shoot diagnosis devices haven’t arrived to this quadrant yet, but Jawbones and Fitbits can monitor health and fitness patterns literally at arm’s length.
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