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Ovation: GUEST POST – Tomorrow’s Tech, Today: How Geek Culture Influences our Technology

09/23/2016

Are we living in the future? No, this is not an existential question … Think back to your favorite cartoons, science fiction movies and cult television shows. You likely remember self-driving cars, hoverboards, personal computers and other cool tech. Now look around you. We’re living in a world that has some of those same cool inventions. Here are a few examples.

Star Trek’s PADD and Today’s iPad

It seems as if the sci-fi series foresaw the invention of the modern-day tablet. Think about it. There are some crazy similarities between the handheld computer PADDs we first saw in “Star Trek” and Apple’s first iPad. There was one difference, however. Apple’s iPad is much larger than Star Trek’s personal handheld. The Apple iPad Pro measures at 9.7-incheswhile the PADD is just a four-by-six-inch tablet. Otherwise, these personal computers are surprisingly similar to the smartphones we all know and love today.

The Jetsons and Self-Driving Cars

guestbloggerWhile our cars don’t drive in the sky like they did in the classic cartoon “The Jetsons,” tech developers are working on perfecting the technology of self-driving cars. The technology is very much in its beginning stages, but it is progressing rapidly. Google, Tesla and other automakers like Hyundai are driving this innovation and creating cars like we have never seen before. Tech experts predict that in the not-so-far-off future we will have cars that are 100 percent self-driving, built with lounge cabs where “passengers” can take a nap, make a phone call or bring out a laptop to get work done. These cars of the future are even assumed to be safer than the cars that we have on the roads today.

Star Wars Imperial Walkers and Today’s Robots

“Star Wars” fans know what we are talking about here. Imperial Walkers are only the coolest type of combat vehicle that we’ve seen in the “Star Wars” movies so far. When we first saw these battle bot-like weapons, we never dreamed that we would see them in real life. But now, our dreams have come true — kind of. While not nearly as grand in size as Imperial Walkers, the modern robot created by Boston Dynamics called BigDog Robot is not too far off. BigDog is about the size of an average mule, and it can run, climb and carry 300-pounds of cargo. Although it’s not used by Imperial Ground Forces, BigDog is eerily similar.

Back to the Future and Hoverboards

Ah, hoverboards … the future’s go-to mode of levitating, quick transportation. We can presume that people of the future don’t like to walk, apparently. We first saw these levitating boards in “Back to the Future,” but late in 2015, we saw a surge in hoverboard-like technology. The invention of the self-balancing scooter led some manufacturers to claim they had invented “hoverboards.” While they don’t hover above the ground like their name implies, they do get people from place to place rather quickly. However, they aren’t as easy to operate as you might think. And they aren’t safe. There were dozens of fires started when these things imploded on the spot. So, it’s safe to say the hoverboard is still in beta.

Iron Man and Projection Screens

Leave it to the folks from MIT to create Tony Stark’s transparent projection screen. Iron Man is one of the most badass superhero characters to date, so why wouldn’t we want to emulate him? By using tiny nanoparticles, laser projectors can cast images that are reflected back at the user’s eyes, which enables an image to be seen on a transparent glass screen. The International Business Times reported that this technology might be available for widespread public use in the near future.

lauren-topor-headshot-copyLauren Topor full-time freelance writer and alumna of Arizona State University. Her professional work has appeared in a variety of publications from lifestyle mags to business websites. Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurentopor.

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