The Future is Now: Sci-Fi Gadgets that are Actually Real

In the last 30 years, technology has been developing at a breakneck speed. So, it’s no surprise that many gadgets that were once only gleams in a sci-fi writer’s eye are now on the market. Some technologies that were once only imaginable are already a part of your everyday life. Here are 10 cool electronic gadgets that started out as fiction but are now reality.

3D Printers

The Star Trek franchise has long been known for being ahead of its time and has actually predicted, or perhaps inspired, many technologies that we use today. One such technology is the replicator, which is similar to today’s 3D printers.

The replicator first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation and was depicted as a machine that could rearrange subatomic particles into nearly any form desired. While today’s 3D printing isn’t able to conjure up something out of nothing (it requires pre-existing material and a design in order to print), it’s pretty darn close to the real thing.

Sci-fi nerds were over the moon when it was announced that NASA had emailed a wrench to an astronaut on the International Space Station because it meant that the replicator was basically real.

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Roombas

The classic animated show The Jetsons, which originally ran from 1962 to 1963, really raised our expectations of the future with their floating cities, three-hour workdays, and casual moon vacations. However, one fictional element of the show has already been in our homes for over a decade now: vacuuming robots.

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The Roomba, a small robotic disc that uses censors to clean the floors of your home, has been on the market since 2002. Although it can’t help your kids with their homework or cook dinner like the Jetson’s maid Rosie the Robot could, it’s still pretty cool to think that at least one menial task is already being left to artificial intelligence.

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Video Calling

While some falsely credit Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as being the first depiction of video calling on screen, that title actually belongs to Fritz Lang who first featured the concept over 40 years prior. In his epic 1927 silent film Metropolis, Lang showed one of his characters dialling up and giving orders to his minion using radio-like video calling technology.

Although Lang didn’t quite get the technical details correct, overall his portrayal of video calling was strangely prophetic. Today Facetime and Skype are commonly used technologies, and as David Foster Wallace bemoaned in his novel Infinite Jest, we can no longer just pretend that we’re interested in what the caller is saying, we actually have to look interested too.

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