Science fiction, you either love it or you hate it. However, it’s not just only an escapist kind of storytelling. Science fiction is a way to say: ‘Hey! Why don’t we have this yet?’ to the innovators of this world. Every once in a while there is a scientist, entrepreneur or creative mind that watches a movie and wonders if the fictional object is actually possible to build and starts working on it. The result? An endless list of innovations that changed the world. What are the coolest innovations based on science fiction? We found them for you!

October 21, 2015

It’s what we all dreamed of when we were kids: the hoverboard from Back to the Future II. In the movie, Martin McFly travelled in time to October 21 in 2015, which is now not so far away anymore. But guess what’s about to be released on that exact date? The first actual hoverboard! This is not just a very cool kind of skateboard, but also an innovation that inspires. The hoverboard uses a magnetic field that pushes itself away from the surface. We haven’t seen this technology around much due to the difficulties with scalability and surface requirements. Yet, as developers are picking it up now, it promises to be a game changer in the field of transportation.

More creativity than NASA

Before we even went to the moon, the USS Enterprise was already exploring the outer corners the galaxy… Well, on TV. Although 9 out of 10 tools were made out of plastic and flickering lights, the imagination of Star Trek’s scripting team went far beyond the creative thinking of NASA. Just take a look at your Smartphone. Martin Cooper, one of Motorola’s former innovators, was so inspired by the ‘Communicator’ from captain Kirk that he decided that his team had to develop one too. As a result, the first mobile phone was born. Also the first flip phone, not accidentally named StarTAC, was based on a Star Trek device.

You probably used Google Translate before, but did you know that there are computers that automatically translate languages for you? Imagine the possibilities… If those computers get fast enough, you would never have to learn any other language than your own. Again, it’s inspired by Star Trek!

Are we done with Star Trek yet? No! Don’t forget about the iPad, the LOCAD (a medical handheld scanner for unwanted microorganisms) and even the technology to make blind people ‘see’ again (through electromagnetic impulses). These are all based on the imagination of the Star Trek crew. There’s just one innovation that we’re still waiting for, which is the teleport. Unfortunately, it might take some time before we can yell: ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’.

 

What else is there?

Remember Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak? Possible!  In Japan, Scientists have described the so-called ‘Metamaterials’, which are able to reflect on the front side what is shown on the back side. Before we leave Harry Potter, there’s another magical object that turned from fiction to reality: the Daily Prophet newspaper with moving images. In 2004, Philips revealed flexible E-paper on which moving images could be shown. By now, companies like E-Ink are taking this to a next level! Another innovation inspired by science fiction is the upcoming Apple Watch that is also able to control a Tesla car. Just like K.I.T.T. discussed all day long with David Hasselhoff in the Knight Rider, you might have a good discussion with Siri in the future.