You may not be a Science Fiction (Sci-Fi) fan, but the fact is this genre touches (and has changed) our lives in the real world more often than you think.
Take the humble mobile phone. This cant-do-without piece of technology that the mobile phone industry is truly indebted for was inspired by Gene Roddenberry’s, Star Trek. Yes that’s right, inventor Martin Cooper (cited as the first person in history to make a cellular phone call in public) remembers watching an episode of Star Trek when Captain Kirk used his Communicator to call for help for Spock, which later inspired him to invent the mobile phone.
Star Trek has been responsible for many other inventions too, such as Bluetooth headsets, tricorders, USB drives, voice activation, GPS, Dr McCoy’s diagnostic bed and even the iPad – although a “newspad” is also present in Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A spaceOdyssy, written in 1968.
Earbud headphones were first “thought of” in 1950 when Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, leading the way for Apple’s iconic earbud headphone design which was released in 2001 with the first-generation iPod.
In 1911, Hugo Gernsback wrote about a “Telephot” in Ralph 124C 41+ that had a “faceplate that became luminous – revealing the face of a clean-shaven man about thirty, a pleasant but serious face”. AT&T demonstrated its “picturephone” at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and Skype was founded in 2003. As you can see, science fiction has always inspired the creation of great inventions and its still doing it today.
Take the much–loved Sci-Fi movies and series such as Back to the Future, Knight Rider, The Fifth Element, Blade Runner, Minority Report, Black Panther and of course the comics of Marvel and DC. These (and many others) have paved the way for Virgingalactic, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, into developing and operating a new generation of space vehicles to open space for recreational space travel for everyone. Elon Musk tasked himself and his company SpaceX to “making life interplanetary” by kicking off with a mission to Mars in 2022 – watch the NatGeo documentary series on this, it’s fascinating.
Some tackle the near future science fiction sub-genre by imagining a future not far from now and virtual assistants and artificial intelligence come to the fore – think Humans, Westworld, Her, Ex Machina, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Black Mirror. In fact have you met Sophia The Robot? Born, or rather activated, in April 2015, Sophia is a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics. She is a delight, but a way to go to meet her onscreen counterparts’ abilities and finesse.
Real-world science and science fiction is progressively becoming more and more fluid, so best you keep and eye on the Sci-fi as it’s a pretty good genre to preview what’s coming next in tech – and it’s entertaining too!