There are very few restrictions in the world of cinema which is perhaps why so many of the coolest gadgets ever are only found in the movies. From the lightsaber in Star Wars to Batman's Bat Phone, we count down 11 of the coolest futuristic gadgets ever seen on the big screen
We've answered your future tech questions, but how have they guys in Hollywood with their multi-million budgets handled painting a picture of the inventions that will one day become a part of our everyday lives?
Most are too outlandish to believe. Sometimes though, as the cinematic examples below prove, the guys in Hollywood can get them spot on...
1/ Metropolis (1927) - Fembots
Fritz Lang’s classic sees a crazy inventor create a robotic version of his dead lover. The android captivates the higher echelons of Lang’s dystopian society with its erotic dancing and soon inspires a city-wide riot of sexual jealousy. Many convincing robot likenesses, capable of conversation and complex facial expression, have been created in Japan in recent years – check out Repliee Q1Expo on YouTube – although none have yet provoked widespread rioting.
2/ Star Wars (1977) - Lightsaber
Yes, that’s right: gone are the days of brandishing a broom handle while making noises akin to a malfunctioning vacuum cleaner. Now you can relive the exploits of Skywalker, Yoda et al with a fully functioning torch of death and dismemberment. The Spyder III Pro Arctic Laser is a DIY tool that claims to be the most powerful laser you can legally own. With the potential to blind permanently and set fire to body parts, it’s perfect for settling intergalactic family spats, though arguably not ideal as a child’s toy.
3/ Star Trek (1979) - Tablet computer
Star Trek and its umpteen spin-offs give even T3’s resident futurologist James Wallman a run for his money with the extent and accuracy of their tech predictions. Aside from early glimpses of mobile phones and sliding doors, Captain Kirk is regularly seen using a touchscreen tablet device to perform his administrative duties. It’s unclear whether he also uses it to wind down with a few rounds of Angry Birds.
4/ Blade Runner (1982) - Flying Cars
Flying cars feature in Ridley Scott’s re-imagining of Philip K Dick’s novel. Named Spinners, these vehicles closely resemble recent prototype cars with VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) capabilities. Today, we can all also zoom into hi-res photos in a similar, if less ludicrous, manner to Blade Runner’s infamous Esper machine.
5/ Aliens (1986) - Loader Suit
In round two of the space horror franchise, Ellen Ripley uses this exoskeleton-cum-JCB to even the odds when battling with the alien queen bitch. Helped by its awesome strength, built-in welding torch and a minor waiving of the laws of physics when the airlock door opens, Ripley succeeds in flushing it into space. Today, exo-suits are naturally being developed for military purposes, as well as to help wheelchairbound patients to walk (and fight aliens).
6/ Batman (1989) - The Bat Phone
Unlike the big, red home phone of the early Batman TV series, this mobile phone-like device is used by Commissioner Gordon in the 1989 film by Tim Burton. Summoning the Dark Knight to help Gotham in its all-too-frequent times of need, it was encrypted for security and contained a tracking device, just like a modern smartphone. There was also one in the Batmobile, hopefully with a Bluetooth Bathands-free.
7/ Back to the Future Part II (1989) - TV Glasses
There’s a host of uncannily accurate tech predictions in Marty McFly’s second trip through time. Not content with inventing video conferencing and controller-free gaming, director Robert Zemeckis shows the future McFlys enjoying the delights of TV glasses. Today, iTV Goggle’s nattily named ITG-PCX3Ds create a virtual 80-inch screen before your eyes and are 3D-ready too. Perfect for Jaws 19, due out in 2015, if Zemeckis got that one right as well.
8/ Total Recall (1990) - X-Ray Security Scans
Less than 20 years after this Verhoeven/ Schwarzenegger classic, full-body x-ray scans have been introduced in airports to prevent terrorism and/or cause massive embarrassment. The one that revealed Arnie’s poorly concealed weaponry on Mars showed a skeleton image, which it’s fair to say would cause considerably less sniggering than the flesh-revealing scanners we have here on Earth. On the plus side, even the former Governator would struggle to smash straight through the real scanners as he did through the one in the film.
9/ Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Remote-control BMW 750iL
The world’s favourite secret agent evades an army of goons with the most skilled use of a remote-controlled car since Mr Bean sat atop his Mini in a large armchair and operated it using a rope and pulley system. The basic principle is the same as unmanned military drones – or, indeed, toy remote-controlled cars – and easy enough to do in theory. Top Gear’s team demonstrated a remotely driven, solenoid-and-lever-controlled car in 2005, and used it to blow up a caravan, or something like that.
10/ Face/Off (1997) - Face Transplants
The first full-scale face transplant took place last year and required 24 hours, a small army of Spanish doctors and two years of planning. The recipient, a farmer named Oscar, still can’t close his eyes or feel his lips. That’s odd, as a full 13 years earlier, in John Woo’s action thriller, it took one doctor the length of a short montage sequence to sew Nicolas Cage’s bulging-eyed visage on to John Travolta’s gargantuan skull.
11/ Minority Report (2002) - Gesture-Based Interface
Spielberg recruited a crack team of 15 tech experts including renowned future-gazing scribe Douglas Coupland and MIT computer science professor Neil Gershenfeld to make this sci-fi thriller. The film shows Tom Cruise using a 3D gesture controlled computer interface, effortlessly swiping data this way and that. Today, people are already dancing like lunatics in front of Xbox Kinects, while swiping has long since replaced buttons on tech from smartphones to tablets.