31 Science-Fiction Things That Actually Exist Now

It’s all happening!

1. Pretty in Pink Computer ➪ Instant Messaging

 

Before randomly receiving a message was ominous, it was cute.

2. Star Trek Replicator ➪ 3D Printers

 

They’re not as flashy as items appearing out of thin air, but 3D printers can make jewelry, food — even body parts, like replacement skulls! Scientists are even examining its use in space to print spare parts and — oh yes — pizza.

3. Star Trek PADD ➪ iPad

 

You can now have a Personal Access Display Device of your own without a stylus and with 100% more kitties.

4. Star Trek Virtual Display Device ➪ Google Glass

CBS

AP Photo/John Minchillo

 

The headsets allowed the evil Dominion to see outside their ships with just a turn of the head, like having a screen in your brain. Google Glass is a tiny screen just outside your direct vision that plugs you into everything you want — email, recording, and evil.

 

The next generation of ocular technology includes augmented reality, pioneered by inventors like Steve Mann. MetaPro is the cusp of holographic glasses, citing their screen is 15 times that of Google Glass.

5. Star Trek Medical Tricorder ➪ Scanadu Scout

 

Like WebMD without the hypochondria, the tricorder could instantly diagnose almost anything. Smartphone accessory Scanadu Scout gives you vitals just as fast when you put it at your temple.

6. Star Trek Communicator ➪ Flip Phones

 

“Nuq Davang ramvam?” (That’s how Channing Tatum would say “What are you doing tonight?” in Klingon.*)

*Editor’s note: Our CMS doesn’t support Klingon proper, so go easy in the comments, purists.

7. Ender’s Game Antigravity Battle Room ➪ Indoor Skydiving

 

The threat of injury is lessened but not totally off the table.

8. Star Wars Speeder Bike ➪ Hoverbike

20th Century Fox

 

It’s probably not as deft as it needs to be to run away from stormtroopers yet, but this hoverbike, scheduled to go on sale in 2017, means you’d at least be able to leave them in the dust.

9. Minority Report Heads-Up Displays ➪ Air Touch Technology

20th Century Fox

 

Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s 1958 sci-fi short story “The Minority Report,” the movie’s depiction of touch-screen technology is slowly being made into a reality.

A new heads-up technology prototype generates a private air-touch display that doesn’t need voice activation or a physical keyboard or screen for input. The Taiwan-based company anticipates the goggles will soon be smaller, sleeker, and about the size of a pair of sunglasses.

MIT grad John Underkoffler, the science and technology advisor for Minority Report, has even brought the movie’s OS to life.

10. Minority Report Targeted Advertising ➪ Face-Scanning Marketing Technology

 

If you’re tired of browser cookies watching your every click, just you wait: Retailers are already scanning faces in hopes of taking the data to create advertising targeted at specific demographics — some even using mannequins equipped with cameras.

11. Looking Backward Credit Cards ➪ ATM and Credit Cards

Ti_ser/Ti_ser

 

In Edward Bellamy’s 1888 utopia, the protagonist falls asleep in 1887 and wakes up in 2000 to find cards are used as money.

12. Fahrenheit 451 Seashell Radio ➪ In-Ear Headphones

travnikovstudio/travnikovstudio

 

Guy Montaug’s wife retreats into her own world with Seashells — thimble radios in her ears, “an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in.” Sounds familiar.

13. From the Earth to the Moon Splashdown Capsules ➪ Lunar Module

 

Author Jules Verne wrote about a “projectile” that carried humans to the moon in his 1865 book. The first crew capsule, which contained Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, was humanity’s first landing on another celestial body.

14. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea Electric Submarine ➪ Diesel-Electric Submarines

 

A century before the Beatles resided on a yellow submarine, Verne’s Captain Nemo traveled on the Nautilus, an electricity-powered vehicle with a dining room, organ, paintings, and other luxuries.

15. In The Year 2889 Atmospheric Advertising ➪ Skywriting

OzGraffiti/OzGraffiti

Oliver Wales / Creative Commons

 

In 1889 Verne also wrote: “Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements reflected from the clouds, so large they may be seen by the populations of whole cities or even entire countries.” Luckily corporations haven’t bought the atmosphere (yet).

16. The War of the Worlds Heat-Ray ➪ Active Denial System

 

Author H.G. Wells’ Martian heat-ray was deadly, but the military’s is non-lethal — and primarily designed to make you feel really unpleasant. It uses microwave blasts in an attempt to disperse unruly crowds, and as you can see, no one can withstand being a human Hot Pocket.

17. Iron Man Armor ➪ Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)

 

The U.S. Military’s new battle suit TALOS is Iron Man-like in its ability to ward off bullets and internal antennas and computers designed to give better situation awareness, just without the pleasure of Tony Stark’s British companion, J.A.R.V.I.S.

The one pitfall: It doesn’t fly. The prototype is expected this month (Robert Downey Jr., sold separately).

18. The Jetsons Robot Maid ➪ Mahru-Z

Hanna-Barbera Productions

 

Korean scientists’ robot Mahru-Z putters at about the speed of a grandparent riding rollerblades made of snails, but it can bring you toast, do your laundry, and heat food up in the microwave — childcare optional, depending on your parenting style.

19. The Jetsons Robot Vacuum ➪ Roomba

Hanna-Barbera Productions

 

Bonus points if it comes with a menacing companion.

20. The Jetsons Food Machine ➪ Online Ordering Hubs

Hanna-Barbera Productions

 

So Seamless isn’t technically in your house, but it is food at the tap of a button.

21. The Jetsons Sleek TVs ➪ Flatscreen TVs

Hanna-Barbera Productions

 

For exercising just as halfheartedly as people did in the 1960s.

22. The Jetsons Tanning Lamp ➪ Tanning Beds

Hannah-Barbera

NBC

 

A literal bed upon which to tan is at least a little less claustrophobic than a standard human rotisserie.

23. The Jetsons Dog Treadmill ➪ DogTread

 

You’re less likely to get exercise or fall into the abyss of space, but yep, tiny pup treadmills exist. (“DogMill” must have not had the same ring of success to it.)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey Phone Booth ➪ Video Calls

 

Seeing loved ones at the graze of a screen is a marvel, but it seemed like a distant future when Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke imagined it in 1968. At least now you don’t have to sit in a booth and have the number memorized like some sort of barbarian.

Spaceballs Video Cam

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

 

OK, so Space Odyssey was before Mel Brooks and the rest of the video-cam yearners, but you can’t omit Skyping with Pizza the Hut.

The Jetsons Video Calls

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Hanna-Barbera Productions

 

Have we mentioned the Jetsons were on their shit?

25. 2001: A Space Odyssey Mission Robot ➪ NASA Canadarm

Warner Bros.

 

Stanley Kubrick’s space helper wasn’t that far off from the future: Canadarm, a robotic arm (from guess where!) that helps move equipment and astronauts, made its space debut in 1981 and assisted with missions for 30 years before it was retired, giving Canadarm2 the spotlight.

26. Demolition Man Sexytimes ➪ Oculus Rift Porn

Warner Bros.

The Associated Press

 

Like braces headgear, but hotter! If you thought you could have interactive virtual reality without the adult industry poking its head in, you’ve got another thought coming.

27. Back to the Future Power Laces ➪ Self-Tying Laces

Universal

 

They’re coming in 2015, according to Nike. The MAGs had a short run of 1,500 pairs in 2011 but with normal boring laces.

Back to the Future Hoverboard ➪ HUVr Board

Universal

 

While Mattel’s was more of a prop that made whooshy noises, there’s a site with a mysterious countdown and Tony Hawk riding what appears to be a dream (even though it’s a dream-crushing prank).

28. “Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014” Cordless Appliances ➪ Wireless Things

Hyperion Pictures

David Paul Morris / Getty Images

 

Scientist Isaac Asimov — the man behind I, Robot, Bicentennial Man, and hundreds of other works — also published an essay imagining 2014 in the New York Times in 1964, predicting that appliances won’t have electric cords “for they will be powered by long-lived batteries running on radioisotopes.”

We’re not as reliant on nuclear power as, say, Springfield, but he got the wireless part right — and video calling, gadgets, electroluminescence…OK basically every word he wrote.

29. “Visit to the World’s Fair 2014” Kitchen Gadgets ➪ Instant Coffee Makers

Brendan Mcdermid / Reuters

CBS

 

Asimov also predicted gadgets will relieve us of tedious work: “Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare ‘automeals,’ heating water and converting it to coffee.”

30. “Visit to the World’s Fair 2014” Mars Exploration ➪ Curiosity Rover

Warner Bros.

Steven Hobbs/Stocktrek Images/Steven Hobbs/Stocktrek Images

 

And landing on Mars! Asimov wrote that by now, we’d have unmanned ships there (check) and a manned expedition in the works (check).

31. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Pneumatic Tube ➪ Vacuum Elevators

 

Suitable for chocolate rivers and also people not named Augustus Gloop.

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