Science Fiction sometimes comes up with remarkable ideas for devices which would make our lives easier. Or, at the very least, much cooler. Until we get a faster than light drive or a light saber, the following will have to do. Read on, and enjoy the future of fantasy today.
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The one big gotcha about visiting an alien race (Dr. Hawking's concerns notwithstanding) is the language barrier. In the Star Wars universe, communication is done the old fashioned way: learn the language. With Star Trek and Doctor Who, universal translator devices are what will get you talking. Here on Earth in the 21st century, Voxtec has created the Phraselator, a hand-held device used by the U.S. military that translates 40 different languages. None of them Klingon. Yet.
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As cool as the X-Wing fighters were in the Star Wars films, the Empire's vehicle of choice, the T.I.E. Fighter, was the ship I loved the most. T.I.E. stands for "Twin Ion Engine". Today, there are several spacecraft that use an ion engine, including the European Space Agency's SMART-1. This craft is a solar orbitor and the ion engine uses charged ions in order to generate thrust.
Marty McFly's hoverboard from the Back to the Future series (#2) is without a doubt one of the cooler modes of future transportation. The engineers at Scarpar are really close to making a skateboard of the future. While not exactly a hoverboard, this is what you would call an "all-terrain" board. Check out the amazing video.
James Bond's Submersible Car
Suppose you're stuck in traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway, and you don't have a personal helicopter handy. Fortunately, you're driving Rinspeed's sQuba. This is the first car that can float and (purposefully) sink to become a submarine. Yes, you'll need scuba gear to breath, but for $400,000, you could be the envy of all those beach-goers.
Okay, this isn't the Steve Austin bionics, but impressive nonetheless. Cyberdine's HAL-5 is a robotic exoskeleton. Yes, the wearer would be able to lift heavy objects, but the possibilities are endless. The exoskeleton receives instructions from the wearer's "biosignals" to carry out its commands. I can't wait until it battles Bigfoot.
The Ultimate Heads-Up Display
Researchers at the University of Washington have been working to develop a kind of bionic contact lens. The test results have been positive so far, and the potential uses are limitless. Movie, computer screens...all with the simple task of putting a computer monitor contact lense on your eye.
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