How many times have you seen something magical on TV and said, "Wish I could do that"? Fly. Become invisible. Have the power of 10 men.
When this fantasy is based on magic, you know the chances of that happening are slim. But when you see magical things that are backed by technology, there is a glimmer of hope.
TV shows have featured some remarkable futuristic devices and, in some cases, inspired real-life technology, such as holograms, robots and medical scanners. But there are still some that either do not exist or have not developed to a large scale yet.
Below, we explore some technological advances featured in TV shows that would be interesting to see in real life in the near future:
The Jetsons was a childhood favourite of many. The 1960s animated sitcom was full of exciting technology set in the distant future (not so distant anymore). While some of the technology it featured – such as video chats and smart watches (like Samsung Gear S) – is widely available for the general population, there are some others that we are still yet to see on a large scale, such as the flying cars used by the Jetsons family for transportation. Imagine reaching from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 15 minutes – perhaps even less – without traffic jams or somebody tailgating you. Yes, we have airplanes, helicopters and other types of aircraft, and there are some organisations that are trying to build cars that can fly. However, there is a long way to go until we see a time when they are widely used by the general public as personalised vehicles for daily commutes. An even better innovative technology The Jetsons featured was the ability to fold a car into a briefcase at the simple press of a button. While this may be far-fetched and unlikely in real life, it sure would be a treat to avoid circling parking lots to find an empty spot.
How long does it take you to get to your workplace? 20 minutes? One hour? Or more? What if you could teleport there in an instant and avoid traffic on the way back home?The hit television series, Star Trek, had such a teleportation machine, called Transporter, that 'beamed' people from the USS Enterprise spaceship to other locations. If such a technology existed for human use, struggling with traffic, lengthy flights and long immigration lines could be a thing of the past.
However, the beaming in the show involved converting a person into an energy pattern and then having them re-materialise at the new location. So reaching your destination in an instant would be good, but perhaps without having to disintegrate first. Scientists have developed similar technology to teleport photons, but it is a far cry from transporting humans and the process is different. Here's hoping!
KITT 'smart' car
Back in the 1980s, if you asked people what their dream car was, you were likely to hear them say: "KITT." KITT – which stands for Knight Industries Two Thousand – was a thinking, talking, laser-shooting supercomputer on wheels in the popular TV show, Knight Rider. Built with artificial intelligence, the armoured 'smart' car was equipped with the most advanced features, gadgets and weapons, and supported the show's protagonist, Michael Knight (played by David Hasselhoff) in fighting crime. Some of the impressive features in KITT (a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am) can be seen in modern cars these days, such as self-driving functionality (in the form of cruise control, automated parking, etc.) and turbochargers. But it had several other features that we are yet to see in automobiles today, such as the ability to shoot laser that can burn through steel plating. So if you want the full package of a highly intelligent, superfast smart car with a dry and witty humour, you may have to wait a while.
The action-comedy, Chuck, revolved around a computer 'geek' who accidentally downloads classified government information into his brain and eventually assists CIA operatives in their missions. Known as the 'Intersect,' the technology inside his brain flashes a string of visuals and data to give him information on a specific target. In version 2.0 of the Intersect, he is able to learn new tricks by downloading the information into his brain, e.g. martial arts. This could be every school-going child's dream (or any adult's for that matter): possessing the world's knowledge without homework, exams and heavy schoolbags. That could also save a lot of time and money spent on a school and university education. Unless, of course, the technology itself costs that much. The new series, Intelligence, also features a similar concept. The CIA plants a microchip inside an ex-army officer's brain, storing a whole database of classified information and other intelligence that can help him solve crimes. A future where the only supercomputer we need is our brain could be quite exciting.
The space is a fascinating place and mankind has only been able to explore a fraction of it – which in itself is an amazing feat. What if you could explore not only your own, but other galaxies with superfast travel? In the sci-fi show, Battlestar Galactica, some spaceships had a Faster-Than-Light drive which allowed them to travel extremely fast or 'jump' to distant places in the space. If it were possible in real life, this type of express interstellar travel would perhaps also take tourism to the next level.