Art inspires science and science often inspires art. This has never been truer than in science fiction films and television shows. Iconic TV and film series' like Star Trek or Star Wars have inspired future generations to make fantasy and reality in our modern world.
In the following list, we have collected 10+ examples of accurate tech predictions found in a few sci-fi films and series. Given the sheer volume of sci-fi media throughout the ages, the following list is far from exhaustive.
It is also in no particular order.
Feel free to add suggestions in the comments below.
1. The electronic tablet
We'll start our list of accurate tech predictions in films with one that is pretty much bang on. Unless you've seen 2001: A Space Odyssey recently you'd be forgiven for not spotting this tech prediction.
There is a scene where the astronauts are watching/reading from a couple of flat-screen tablets. Not only was the concept spot on, but the design is pretty much exactly right!
2. Insect-derived foodstuffs
If you have ever seen the 2013 filmSnowpierceryou'll be more than familiar with the strange food blocks that the poorer occupants of the train are forced to eat. The film is actually based on the 1982 graphic novel Le Transperceneige.
As the lead character later finds out they are in fact made exclusively from ground-up bugs. As it happens there are currently some insect-derived protein bars, like Exo, and chips made from cricket flour.
This is a trend that is likely to explode as insects are a great source of protein and are a relatively small impact on the environment compared to more traditional protein sources. Cricket calories require a lot less water than their equivalent weight in beef, for instance.
3. Smart home devices
Do you remember the 1999 Disney filmSmart House? In this film, a house is run by a robot called PAT (Personal Applied Technology) that can receive and respond to voice commands.
It can also control settings in the house and perform chores. PAT is even able to learn the habits of the occupants, make phone calls, etc.
This is not a million miles away from the plethora of modern-day smart home devices like the Amazon Echo. While we don't anticipate Alexa taking over our homes as PAT does in the film, the two technologies (as well as a growing interest in the Internet of Things) are eerily similar.
What's more, just this year HGTV ran a spookily similar competition to win a real-life smart house. It came complete with WiFi connected robot cleaners, smart TV's and pictures, motorized patio screens, smart thermostats, speakers and security systems. All these devices were linked and controlled by Amazon's Alexa.
4. Personalized adverts
The similarities betweenMinority Reportand the real world are quite striking on reflection. Within the hyper-surveilled environment, the film characters live in a world that is likely to become commonplace for all of us very soon.
You might recall the billboards that are able to perform a retina scan to identify passersby and target adverts towards them. Programmatic digital advertising is already in use on the internet targeting ads at you based on your previous search or purchasing history online.
This technology is slowly appearing on physical billboards. General Motors, for instance, has recently created a billboard that modifies the message based on the car you are driving.
5. Autonomous cars
Although Total Recall is a rather far-fetched vision of the future, one featured technology was very accurate indeed. If you recall, no pun intended, characters in the film make good use of Johnny Cabs.
These taxis are driven by automated cab drivers that control the vehicle. Although driverless cars are not quite there yet they will be pretty soon.
It's not a big leap in imagination for fleets of automated taxis becoming a reality for us all very soon.
6. Autonomous Military Vehicles
Hot on the heels of Total Recall we have the great 1986 flick Short Circuit. This film predicts the development of autonomous military robots called SAINT (Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport).
While we are nowhere near the sophistication of Johnny Five, we do have Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV's) today. Both Johnny and UGV's roll around on tracks and have sensor-packed heads.
And let's not forget to mention Skynet in the Terminator films. Today tech like ATLAS (Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System) has been developed by the U.S. Army. This system can acquire targets and aim but still needs a human to pull the trigger - at the moment at least.
If you haven't seen the 1927 film Metropolis you are in for a treat. Despite its age, this film makes a very accurate tech prediction for the future - - androids. In the film, a mad scientist, Rotwang, turns a robot into a doppelganger of another character called Maria.
The robot is built to crush an erupting workers revolt, as you do. Granted it doesn't predict the rise of AI robots like Sophia but it certainly predicts the drive for human-looking robots or androids.
8. Video conferencing/calling
Whether you watch Aliens or Bladerunner you can't help but notice they both predict video calling being a thing of the future. With the proliferation of software like Skype, FaceTime etc we think we can safely say this is a verified example of accurate tech predictions in Sci-Fi films.
Although the concept was predicted, the aesthetics of video calling devices are very 1980's indeed. Who knows there may be a push for retro-designs in technology in the distant future.
Only time will tell.
You can also find a similar theme in The Jetsons. In this classic cartoon-series, video calls were a common theme. Today we, as above, Skype, Facebook Portal, and many others are pretty much exactly the same concept.
9. Mobile phones/Smartwatches
Star Trek has been pretty good at predicting future technologies throughout its series and films over the years. Most iconic of these are probably the handheld communicators which can, arguably, be likened to modern-day mobile or cellphones.
These were replaced in the first two Star Trek films as wrist-worn communicators which can also be likened to smartwatches!
10. Wearable technology
Next up on our list of accurate tech predictions in Sci-Fi films is the magnificent Back to the Future Part II. Unlike some other predicted tech that its yet to materialize (hoverboards for example) it does make some other accurate future tech guesses.
One such prediction being "smart eyewear" that spookily resembles modern head-mounted virtual reality devices the likes of Oculus Rift. If you watch the clip below they also appear to be able to handle phone calls too.
There are also things that ostensibly resemble today's smartwatches in the film. The Doc wears, and uses, a wrist-mounted device that can predict the weather down to the second.
Today we have apps like Dark Sky that was released in 2012 and can perform a similar trick. It can also be installed on smartwatches.
Let's not also forget the Geordi La Forge from Star Trek the Next Generation. As you may, or may not, remember, he wore a special visor to help him see (the character was in fact blind).
Today this has been brought to reality with things like Google's Aira that uses Google Glass to aid the visually impaired.
11. Doctor Who's K9 was great at chess
Back in 1977, Doctor Who introduced a robotic robot companion for the Doctor that had some very special talents. Called K9, he was smart enough to beat the good doctor at chess.
As we now know, supercomputers like IBM's "Deep Blue" have managed the same trick just over 20 years ago.
12. House cleaning robots!
Back to The Jetson's again, but this time their faithful robotic housemaid Rosie. She single-handily took care of the cooking and cleaning at home for the family,
Back in 2002 the first house cleaning robot, iRobot Roomba, was released. And as for the cooking, it appears this is not far off thanks to advancements in robotic chefs like the Moley Robotic Kitchen!
13. Translation devices
If you have never read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy you really need to sort out your priorities. But one main tech prediction in it is the "Babel Fish" that is placed in one's ear to translate foreign languages in real-time.
But a little earlier in the late 1960s, a Universal Translator was a common gadget used in the original Star Trek series. Today we have things like Google Assistant with its interpreter mode that can translate languages in real-time thanks to AI.
14. Person of Interest and AI surveillance
And last, but by no means least, is the 2011 series Person of Interest. The series features an AI that monitors surveillance cameras to predict victims and perpetrators of future crime.
In the United Kingdom, a similar system called the National Data Analytics Solution performs a similar task.
It uses AI to analyze police records and other data to flag likely individuals who are most at risk of committing future offenses. It's developed assures the public that it is only intended to flag reports for social services and social services, not arrests.
These 10+ tech predictions made in sci-fi films and series are far from all of them. And, with shows like Black Mirror and Altered Carbon growing in popularity, it's possible we could see some of the technology from those shows become a reality in years to come.
Feel free to add your suggestions for great sci-fi film tech predictions that have come true below in the comments.