Part of the fun of watching and reading science fiction is imagining unbelievable technology that doesn’t exist in our current lifetimes.
Teleportation devices, and time travel machines have yet to be invented and yet there are some real-life technologies now available that were first invented in the minds of sci-fi authors.
Here are five currently available technologies predicted by sci-fi that were years ahead of their time:
Pretty much everyone who watched Back to the Future II in 1989 wanted Marty McFly’s hoverboard.
While technically actual hoverboards aren’t yet available to the public, we’ve got pretty close; with the self-balancing two-wheeled scooters (confusingly known as hoverboards) that everyone got for Christmas in 2015 and disappeared just as fast when they started catching fire.
Actual real hoverboards are in the early stages of production and it shouldn’t be too long before anyone can buy them.Hendo employed pro skateboarder Tony Hawk to demonstrate its working hoverboard and Lexus also have their own model in production branded “Slide”.
Keep your eyes out for hoverboards to start appearing on the market in 2017!
2. Babel Fish
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy described the Babel Fish as a small yellow alien fish, which would translate any language into that of the user when inserted into the ear.
A useful device indeed – and one we’ve been getting closer to over the years. The more recent versions of the Google Translate app have done a pretty decent job as it will translate live speech or any text or photos.
There are now also various sets of Bluetooth earbuds available that translate languages in real time. The Pilot earbuds from Waverly Labswere one of the first to be developed and are expected to be available from May 2017 to translate English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese in combination with a smart phone app.
3. Driverless Cars
Self-driving cars are a popular theme in many sci-fi worlds, one of the most famous being KITT from Knight Rider. Some other notable examples include Minority Report, Total Recall, and Logan’s Run.
Real driverless cars have also been around for quite a while, though they’re not quite ready to be released for public use. Google have been testing a self-driving car since 2009 and Tesla already manufactures cars with an autopilot capability.Uber also has a self-driving fleet of cars, although a human driver supervises at all times.
There are still some issues to be ironed out before driverless cars become mainstream but it seems inevitable that they’re here to stay.
4. 3D Printers
We’re not quite at the point of the Star Trek replicator, which was capable of producing anything from food to Starfleet uniforms, but 3D printers are the next best thing.
3D printers more similar to the ones in use today can be seen in Jurassic Park, The Fifth Element, and were even described as early as 1947 in Eric Frank Russell’s short story, Hobbyist.
3D printing technology is improving at a rapid rate and even 3D bioprinters are now available to print tissues and organs in the same way the character Leeloo was created in The Fifth Element.
5. The Internet
It’s hard to imagine life without the Internet these days, so it’s easy to forget it’s only been around in a form accessible to the public since the 1980s and didn’t really take off until the mid 90s.
Some science fiction authors imagined the Internet well before it existed, however. One of the earliest being Mark Twain, who is more famous for his Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn novels.
Twain wrote a story, From The ‘London Times’ of 1904, in 1898 that described a device using telephone wires to create a world-wide communication network and allowed users to see what others were doing around the world at any point in time.