Robotaxis, hover boards, dog translators
Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it could never compete with science fiction, right? Well, an infographic on the British website wish.co.uk begs to refute that assumption. It identifies 11 sci-fi creations that have actually come to pass in our non-fiction world.
For example, Star Trek fans know the Starfleet Tricorder as one of the crew’s most indispensable tools, used to record and analyze inputs in a range of scenarios, including medical ones. Fantastical, right? Well, General Electric has developed a device it calls the GE VScan that performs a similar function. It is a handheld device that works like an ultrasound, enabling medical professionals to measure and analyze internal organs without invasive surgery.
What do Arnold Schwarzenegger and residents of Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates have in common? Both are familiar with the coolness of traveling in a personal automated robotaxi — the former in the movie Total Recall, the latter as a feature of living in a planned city. The vehicles have been operational since 2010.
The movie Back to the Future featured a hover board, which could zip around in any direction without touching the ground. French scientists have created the Mag Surf, which uses superconductor magnetic levitation to glide a few inches above a magnetic track. The device was developed to promote research in urban transportation.
Superhuman powers come standard in many sci-fi and fantasy worlds, but scientists at Raytheon expect to bring some of that enhanced capability to U.S. soldiers within the next year or two. Its XO2 Suit is an exoskeleton that features hi-pressure hydraulics that increase a soldier’s agility, strength, and endurance.
The ability to communicate with aliens is another venerable technology in the canon of science fiction — and one that has its analog in today’s world: Voxtec has created the Phraselator P2 for the military (which seems to get all the cool stuff), which can translate more than 100,000 English phrases into 70 different languages. And if that were not impressive enough, there is the Bowlingual translator, which analyzes the acoustics of your dog’s bark and tells you what it’s saying.
See other strange but true inventions at wish.co.uk.