As you may have recently heard Nike is about to release a limited run of the Nike Air Mag trainers featured in Back to the Future Part II (1989). You should remember those, they were the awesome power lacing ones. Somewhat disappointingly the trainers being released by Nike don’t actually feature the power laces, however they do light up and all the profits are going to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease.
We do have hope that one day the power laces will be incorporated. Whilst we wait for those I thought we should look to other films for other fictional technologies that scientists, engineers and designers should really have worked out how to create by now. Just so you know I am not really accounting for real life moral dilemmas that some of these may present. Just the general awesomeness that each presents.
Masks and voice modulator – Mission Impossible (1966-present)
This was a difficult decision of whether to include or not, mainly due to how much they annoyed me with their overuse in the second film. However I do really like this technology and who wouldn’t want to go around pretending to be someone else?
The mask and voice modulator was also a main feature of the original TV series. If you often watch Mythbusters you may have seen the episode where they try to recreate the mask from the original series;
Sick Sticks from Minority Report (2002)
Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report featured a great deal of technologies that would be useful in real life. Generally when you think of the innovative devices featured in the film you think of the multi-touch interface they use to navigate the Precogs visions. However with the introduction of the Kinect and motion gaming this appears to be closer than any of the other technologies on the list.
Therefore I have opted to go for the delightfully nick-named ‘Sick Stick’. Whilst limited in its use the Sick Sticks provided entertaining moments in the film and still stand out to me in a film that featured many futuristic technologies. In the real world this could offer endless amounts of… well not really fun. This is one technology that could be very useful but not much fun for the people being zapped. Kind of a like a messy alternative to the taser.
Useful also if you ever find yourself in this situation (P.S. – the technologically updating newspaper that Cameron Crowe is reading is basically an iPad, so no need to include that);
Spinners from Blade Runner (1982)
The flying car has been a staple of futuristic visions for decades. Many books and films set in the future include some variation of the flying car. I believe the most realised of these are the spinners featured in Blade Runner. They look futuristic and yet have an urban, lived-in feel to them that makes them feel more realistic than other flying cars. The adapted DeLorean featured in the Back to the Future films was undeniably awesome. The two even share similar methods of take-off and function -minus time-travel of course.
However the flying aspects and the cars general design does not seem as unique as the spinners. Mainly due to the DeLoreon being a real functioning car. Therefore the Spinners are the one to hope for when wishing for flying cars. There is also something vaguely alien about the Spinners. When you see them flying through the air they conjure images of the Spaceships from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). This helps to give a greater sense of the future that is being depicted in the film. It further pushes them into the fantastical as the lights pierce the gloomy darkness.
The Danger Room/Holodecks from X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Of course Holodecks are prominently featured in various Star Trek films and t.v. episodes. However I am a Star Wars man at heart and have only seen J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (2009). Therefore I am forced to go for the version that was featured in X-Men: The Last Stand. This version is more commonly referred to as the Danger Room. It uses holographic Sentinels as a training exercise.
Whilst the whole film was a bit lacklustre, the Danger Rooms use was effective and could provide an amazing opportunity for real life use. Whilst the film purely depicts the Room as a training exercise it is reasonable to assume that the technology in real life could provide multiple scenarios. You could go for a walk a walk on the moon, or even be in the video games and films. To experience this stuff first hand would be amazing and would allow people to experience whatever they wanted, even to have sex with Marilyn Monroe. As long as its physics are not similar to The Matrix (1999) wherein if you die plugged in you die in the real world. That would be a bit of a downer.
Lightsabers from Star Wars film series (1977 – 2005)
This is pretty much a given for this list. The lightsaber is arguably the most amazing fictional weapon ever created for film. I wasn’t there when Star Wars first hit the cinema in the late 70′s but I still remember growing up with a VHS version and the distinctive noises and mythology of this weapon led to many pretend Jedi fights with sticks when I was a child.
The lightsaber offered a sci-fi alternative to usual sword fighting games that we used to play. Instead of Knights fighting Knights, we were Jedi Knights fighting Sith Lords. The impact of the lightsaber has led to many knock off versions in video games such as No More Heroes (2008) and even the Halo series (2001-?). However these cannot compare to the versions in Star Wars. The fact that they somehow manage to stop a laser at a certain point is absurdly awesome.
Sadly it is almost impossible that a lightsaber will ever fully be realised as they are in the films, for one thing they would be particularly dangerous. But we can dream.
Neuralizer Men in Black film series (2002 – ?)
The Neuralizer is awesome. I love this thing. There is something about the simplicity of its design. The Neuralizer creates some of the funniest moments in Men in Black and offers something slightly different than the other technologies on the list. Like the Sick Sticks however it is a technology that would not be as much fun if you are on the receiving end… Not that you would remember.
The futuristic flashing sound the Neuralizer creates sticks in the mind and is distinctive enough that you know what is happening even if you only hear it. It also allows opportunities for the agents, mainly J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones), to put on their shades at night and look totally badass. The Neuralizer is obviously something that was used to explain away why we are not aware of aliens on earth. However it is a creative enough device that we can surely forgive that. It may be used a tad too much but I personally don’t mind that as the first film is so enjoyable. Sadly like the Lightsaber it is unlikely that these will ever actually exist. Maybe that is part of what makes these technologies so memorable though. The wish for these to exist allows us to appreciate their use within the confines of the films.
This article was first posted on September 12, 2011