Art inspires science and science often inspires art. This has never been more true than in science fiction films and television shows. Scientists who grew up watching Star Trek or Star Wars craft new gadgets inspired by the show's designs, and more often than not , those movie props took a note from the pages of innovative science.
This list is dedicated to 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 film Snowpiercer you'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 at a relatively small impact on the environment. 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 film Smart 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 like PAT does in the film, the two technologies (as well as a growing interest in Internet of Things technology) are eerily similar.
4. Personalized adverts
The similarities between Minority Report and the real world are quite striking on reflection. Within the hyper-surveilled environment, the film characters live in is a tech prediction is likely to become commonplace all around us. You might recall the billboards that are able to perform 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 does have some 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). Granted we are nowhere near the sophistication of Johnny Five (what with the name Johnny and Robots in the '80s?) but we do have Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV's) today. Both Johnny and UGV's role around on track wheels and have sensor packed heads.
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 software like Skype, FaceTime etc we think we can safely say this is 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.
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 phones. These were replaced in the first two Star Trek films as wrist-worn communicators which can also be likened to smartwatches!
10. Wearable technology
And finally on our list of accurate tech predictions in Sci-Fi films brings us to 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.
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.