Sci-fact: Tech from classic movies and TV that turned into reality

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. Here are some technologies that made the jump to the real world.

The Jetsons

Private spaceflight

It may seem commonplace now, but privately-owned companies exploring space was once in the realm of science fiction. The 1950 flick Destination Moon sees Charles Cargrave, General Thayer, and Jim Barnes working with American titans of industry to build a rocket that can take them to the moon. With SpaceX already flying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, it seems Destination Moon has already come to life.

Wikimedia Commons

Multi-touch interfaces

Tom Cruise's 2002 sci-fi thriller Minority Report featured cop John Anderton whizzing through video footage with a series of complex gestures on a giant screen. Just four years later, computer scientist Jeff Han demonstrated his team's multi-touch interface during a TED talk. The year after, in 2007, Apple's iPhone brought multi-touch to a broader audience.


Voice-controlled computers

While the voice-controlled computers in Star Trek seemed out of this world in the sixties and seventies, the advent of Alexa and Google Assistant in the 2010s now make it seem almost pedestrian. The circle was complete when the virtual reality game Star Trek: The Bridge introduced voice commands courtesy of IBM Watson.

Peter Bischoff/PB Archive/Getty Images

Smart home

The space-age lifestyle of The Jetsons may still be some time away, but its smart home gadgets have already made their way into everyday life. The family's robot vacuum cleaner has already started popping up as the Roomba, TV screens that take video calls are commonplace, and even Rosie the maid is set to have a companion in Pepper the robot.


Augmented reality

The visual identification systems present in 1987's RoboCop have slowly made their way into the real world. Using the phone in the average pocket, people can now use similar technologies to track their way during a walk or catch virtual Pokémon.


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