From Sci Fi to Reality: How Dreams Turn Into Innovations
The gap between sci-fi and reality is not so big anymore. You don’t have to go that far back in time to see huge developments in technology. For example, the smartphone has been around for over 10 years now, but if you don’t have one in today’s society, you’d either be seen as crazy or just out of touch.
The world of science fiction has enabled us to dream about what could be. The ideas may not be possible at the time, but they can inspire others to take them up and make them real.
In fact, science fiction has inspired some remarkable dreams in the past that we now take for granted every day.
Here are few real sci-fi ideas that have been made into reality.
1. The Mobile Phone
Mobile phones have transformed the way we consume content and information. Today’s smartphones can give you instant updates wherever you are in the world. They weren’t always around though - someone had to come up with the idea in the first place.
The original dream of a mobile phone first came about after it was showcased in Star Trek. The show was only around for a couple of seasons, but fans fell in love and it continues to inspire to this day.
The device in Star Trek wasn’t called a mobile phone, as such, but rather as the communicator. This paved the way for Martin Cooper to develop the first ever mobile phone. Cooper credited the communicator for his invention.
2. The Submarine
Jules Verne has a reputation for being the father of science fiction. This doesn’t come much of a surprise if you happened to take a look through his body of work. You could even build this entire list from Verne.
Some of his most famous writing includes the likes of Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and From the Earth to the Moon.
But just looking at Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, in particular, Verne describes a ship that travels underwater. Led by Captain Nemo, the submarine named Nautilus had much grandeur, having had a ballroom and organ on board.
Verne’s vision had such an impact that it inspired inventor Simon Lake to take action on his underwater exploration obsession. Lake first read this novel as a young child which inspired him to make his own submarine, the Argonaut.
Verne was so thrilled that it was brought to life that he sent a letter to Lake congratulating him on the feat.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Karel Capek was a Czech author that predicted the invention of robots back in the 1920s in his play R.U.R, also known as Rossum’s Universal Robots. The play describes the uprising of artificial intelligence. Humans use the robots for labor and remedial tasks, but the robots grow smarter, eventually concluding that they don’t need humans anymore and fight back against their masters.
As told by MIT, following the review of the play, Capek told the London Saturday Review the following, The product of the human brain has escaped the control of human hands. This is the comedy of science.
Today, artificial intelligence is used across various industries. For example, chatbots help to answer questions quickly without having to call an agent. Recommendation engines also help you find related products that you may be interested in. They are used by the likes of Amazon and Netflix.
4. The Self-Driving Car
The next innovation came from Isaac Asimov after attending the 1964 World’s Fair. He wrote a column in the New York Times wondering what the world would be like in 50 years. One of his predictions was a car powered by a robot brain that could drive itself.
Fast-forward to 2014 and Asimov’s predict was eerily close. Several tech companies in Silicon Valley have attempted and succeeded in creating a self-driving car, with Tesla being the most famous example. Tesla, in particular, has now become the world’s most valuable automobile manufacturer showing that dreams really can come true, no matter how far fetched an idea may sound at the time.
5. The Taser
The first taser came from some 1990s children sci-fi books. The series was based on a character called Tom Swift who went on to influence some of the most famous inventors in the world, including the likes of Steve Wozniak.
Tom Swift had a stun gun throughout the series, which inspired NASA’s Jack Clover to invent the taser. Clover loved the series so much that the word taser actually comes from this book series: taser is actually an acronym for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle
6. The 3D Printer
Next up is another invention inspired by Star Trek. The Enterprise (the main space ship in the series) had a tool called the replicator which could create almost anything on-demand, including food.
In today’s world, 3D printers can be used to create all sorts of things, including houses that are relatively inexpensive to build, but they are yet to be able to instantly produce your favorite meal.
7. The Earbud
The final sci-fi dream that became an innovation comes from one of the best sci-books ever, namely Fahrenheit 451. Set in a dystopian world where all books are outlawed, the oppressors use gadgets to distract the people from what’s really going on. One of the main sources of distraction are seashells, described in the book as thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind.
Transistor radios were present upon the movie adaptation’s release, but they were not very pleasing on the eye. Author Ray Bradbury envisioned a world where small earbuds could be used to listen to music and for conversation.
The first proper version of Bradbury’s seashells were released by Apple in 2001 alongside the iPod. Today, every smartphone comes with a pair of earbuds, once again showing that sci-fi ideas can really be brought to life.