SLIDESHOW

Five Sci-Fi Scenarios That Will Come True

In the next 25 years, these technological advances, made famous in movies and on TV, will become reality. How accurate are our prognostications? Check back with us in 2033.

Breakthroughs on the Horizon

Predicted technological advances may look great in the movies, but what about in your living room? Virtual think tank TechCast recently polled hundreds of futurists and technology analysts, and then calculated when emerging technologies are likely to be found in at least 30 percent of U.S. households or businesses. Here are its predictions for five familiar sci-fi scenarios. (Predictions carry a margin of error of plus or minus three years; results are not guaranteed.)

Also see our related story on future technology, "The Next 25 Years in Tech."

Biometric Security (predicted mainstream date: 2010)

As seen in the film "Minority Report"

In a few years, we'll be using fingerprint, voice, iris, or retinal scans to log on to Web sites and make purchases. Sounds a lot better than storing passwords under your keyboard, right? But remember: Your body is your password--so don't lose it.

(Image copyright 20th Century Fox)

Space Tourism (predicted mainstream date: 2013)

As seen in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Space isn't merely the final frontier, it's also the hot new vacation spot for the megarich. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic plans to launch its first suborbital space flight in 2009 (cost: $200,000 per ticket). NASA predicts that the first space hotels will appear within 20 years. When you get turndown service at the Lunar Hilton, will the attendant leave a moon rock on your pillow?

(Image courtesy of GalacticSuite.com)

The Holodeck (predicted mainstream date: 2016)

As seen in the TV show "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

The long-predicted virtual-reality revolution may finally be imminent, thanks to the popularity of 3D movies and of online worlds such as Second Life. A future "holodeck" could be enhanced by scents shot at your nose by a "smell cannon." Japanese researchers are working on the device now.

(Image copright Paramount Pictures)

Self-Aware Computers (predicted mainstream date: 2019)

As seen in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Though unlikely to turn murderous (in contrast to the late, lamented HAL 9000), machines driven by artificial intelligence will, within 15 years or so, be handling many routine tasks.

(Image copyright MGM)

Domestic Robots (predicted mainstream date: 2020)

As seen in the TV show "Lost in Space"

Take a numba, Roomba. One technology expert predicts that by 2025 robots will outsell cars worldwide. So how will the ones without cars get to work?

(Image copyright 20th Century Fox)

Read our other 25th anniversary stories.