Movies that predicted technology

From James Bond to Back the Future, technology features in some of our best-loved movies - and some of their predictions have proved eerily accurate.
 
  • Old fashioned movie projector with screen
    Joe Svetlik
    Last updated: 30 November 2013, 11:45 GMT

    If wearable computers, touch-free interfaces and driverless cars seem the stuff of science fiction, that’s because they were. We look at nine tech innovations first seen on the silver screen.

     

    Alien (1979)

     Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt in Alien REX

    The character Ash turns out to be an android, which brings to mind Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, a humanoid robot who refuses to be knocked over, even when hit from the side. The likes of Atlas could one day be used in combat situations. Or possibly to man space missions and deal with alien life forms. In space, no one can hear you fall over…

     

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

    Sentient robot HAL 9000 - related to Siri?

    The sentient ship’s computer HAL 9000 might have had a breakdown, but thankfully its real-world equivalents work just fine. Touch wood. Its closest descendent today is Apple’s all-hearing, all-talking personal helper Siri. Stanley Kubrick’s film also features a videophone sequence that, 45 years on, looks uncannily like Skype.

     

    Minority Report (2002)

    Tom Cruise in Minority report

    When Minority Report was released 11 years ago, the touch-free ‘spatial operating environment’ interface looked like something out of science fiction. Now here we are, 11 years later, and the Xbox One has it as standard in the form of the Kinect motion controls. Very prescient.

     

    Star Trek (1992)

    Could this be an early iPad?

    Obviously the films and TV series were packed with technology, but here’s one you might have missed - an iPad-style tablet used by Captain Picard. It’s even called PADD, which admittedly sounds very close to ‘iPad’. Maybe Steve Jobs was a secret Trekkie.

     

    Back to the Future 2 (1989)

    Futuristic glasses from Back to the Future 2

    The second instalment in the time-travelling trilogy had plenty of futuristic gizmos like hoverboards, Nike trainers with power laces and self-drying jackets. But JVC’s Personal Video Glasses – as worn by Marty Junior – look a lot like Google Glass. They let you watch and pause TV, and are even voice-activated. OK Glass, let’s watch Back to the Future II.

     

    Blade Runner (1982)

    After many failed attempts, Blade Runner’s flying cars are finally becoming reality. Terrafugia showed off its Transition car/plane hybrid this year, and a mysterious flying car prototype was recently spotted at Google’s Mountain View HQ. Could this be an end to traffic jams as we know them?

     

    Total Recall (1990)

    Total Recall

    In this sci-fi flick, Arnie jumps in a taxi known as a Johnny Cab, only to find it has a robot driver. Well get yourself to Milton Keynes in a year or two, and you might find the same. The city will trial driverless cabs from 2015, in order to ease parking and traffic congestion. OK, it’s not quite Mars, but it’s not far off.

     

    Dick Tracy (1990)

    Dick Tracy played by Warren Beaty

    The private eye famously spoke into a watch that doubled as a phone in this classic comic strip that was turned into a film. LG launched the GD 910 Watchphone back in 2008, and just this year, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Gear smart watch. Spot on.

     

    Die Another Day (2002)

    Invisible car from Die Another Day REX

    Out of all the gadgets Bond has used over the years, an invisible car is one of the most ludicrous. Or is it? Last year, Mercedes-Benz made a car effectively see-through using a mat of LEDs that displayed what a digital SLR was seeing on the other side of the vehicle. Might be tricky to find in the car park though…

     

    Joe Svetlik
    Last updated: 22 January 2014, 10:29 GMT

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