11 Gadgets Inspired by Sci-Fi
Hovercraft | Hunger Games, Sky SapienceLeap Motion | Minority ReportScanadu Scout | Star TrekHovercraft | Back To The FutureMJ V1.0 | The JetsonsPlastic Logic Color Display | Minority ReportRL MARK VI | Iron Man2getthere Automated Car | Total RecallOculus Rift | Snow CrashEZ-robot | The JetsonszSpace | Star Wars
Sci-fi authors and filmmakers are visionaries, creating gadgets for a whole new world.
There's the flying DeLorean from Back to the Future and the stealth helicopter that tracked Katniss Everdeen's every move in Hunger Games.
Wouldn't it be cool to use those gadgets in real life?
Turns out you can. These start-ups took some of the most iconic tech from pop culture and made it real. --Em Maier
To survive the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss had to evade the Capitol's surveillance craft as she poached deer and rabbits to eat.
Sky Sapience, an Israeli start-up, has created a similar product called the HoverMast, which monitors crowds, illegal immigrants, and more.
The machine can fly up to 164 miles high and carry antennas, radars, or cameras.
Perhaps the precogs featured in Steven Spielberg's sci-fi flick invented LeapMotion.
The Solar System Model lets users draw with their fingertip, reach into a universe, or widen a window--all without a mouse or a keyboard.
The gesture-tracking platform just opened its developer portal, though the trackers won't be shipped until next month.
Where would Leonard H. McCoy be without his beloved Tricorder?
Thankfully, Trekkies can get their hands on Scanadu's Scout, which co-founder Walter De Brouwer modeled after McCoy's gadget. The gadget can track vital signs if you hold up to a patient's forehead.
And the doctor doesn't need to be present--Scout can bring data direct to his home, so long as the patient knows what they're doing.
The California company has big dreams for the little disc, as Scout has entered Qualcomm's Tricorder XPrize.
Doc Brown's DeLorean used a plutonium-based flux capacitor to travel through time and fly.
Start-up founder Michael Mercier may not use plutonium for his inventions, but his hovercraft will have a gas-electric hybrid that ensures a continuous air cushion, sort of like an air-hockey puck.
The exterior reminds us of an souped-up Audi or Bugatti--it's just as luxurious and seats up to two people.
During most of Tally's time as a Pretty, she makes elaborate costumes for endless (and mindless) parties.
Mexican start-up Machina could be a hit here on Earth or in her world.
The start-up is designing wearable machines in the form of jackets, the first of which will produce music kinetically. With sensors, buttons, and a joystick sewn into the material, the jacket will serve as a platform to control an iPod or mix music videos.
Remember Harry Potter's interactive paper and the e-paper with changing headlines seen in Minority Report?
British start-up Plastic Logic is developing a flexible tablet that can be flipped, bent, or rolled up like an old-fashioned newspaper. The display media is e-ink, just like what Amazon's Kindle tablet uses.
Founded by researchers from Cambridge University, the company has also created bendable cameras and a solar-powered paper watch.
Hopefully, people wearing the new RL Mark VI Space Diving Suit won't be as obnoxious as Tony Stark.
Two Baltimore tech start-ups, Solar System Express and Juxtopia LLC, designed the space suit, which might pave the way for a new kind of tourism.
Juxtopia designed a set of voice-controlled goggles that feed the explorer a stream of data about his course, vitals, and other info.
Total Recall's Douglas Quaid wasn't a big fan of the automated cabbie running JohnnyCab.
Today's passengers can simply tell 2getthere's CyberCabs their destination and avoid a chatty robot.
The start-up has created several automated transport systems for various cities in the Netherlands including the Capelle aan den Ijssel.
Neal Stephenson's Metaverse was an urban world that ran along one road. Users could buy virtual real estate, date, or hawk merchandise after entering through terminals.
Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, may be the closest you can get to Stephenson's idea. The Rift uses head-tracking technology to follow head motion and translate it into movement within the virtual world.
If combined with the Virtuix Omni, a treadmill of sorts, locomotion will mean more than pressing "W" to move forward.
Jane Jetson counted on Rosie to do most of the housecleaning while she pondered fashion and gadgets.
Now Calgary-based start-up EZ-Robot offers a platform for building tailor-made Robots from modified Roombas to personal assistants.
Founder DJ Sures offers unified hardware and software for clients so they can program to their heart's content.
If R2-D2 hadn't projected Princess Leia's plea for help, who knows what might have happened?
Here in this galaxy, Sunnyvale's zSpace is making holographic imagery so users can interact, manipulate, and navigate the complex holograms.
It's not quite TuPac worthy, but zSpace makes an effort to make its holograms look like they're real.