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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
10. Minority Report Targeted Advertising ➪ Face-Scanning Marketing Technology
11. Looking Backward Credit Cards ➪ ATM and Credit Cards
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
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
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
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
Bonus points if it comes with a menacing companion.
20. The Jetsons Food Machine ➪ Online Ordering Hubs
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
For exercising just as halfheartedly as people did in the 1960s.
22. The Jetsons Tanning Lamp ➪ Tanning Beds
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
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
Have we mentioned the Jetsons were on their shit?
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey Mission Robot ➪ NASA Canadarm
26. Demolition Man Sexytimes ➪ Oculus Rift Porn
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
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.
28. "Visit to the World's Fair of 2014" Cordless Appliances ➪ Wireless Things
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
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."
31. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Pneumatic Tube ➪ Vacuum Elevators
Suitable for chocolate rivers and also people not named Augustus Gloop.