6 Futuristic Gadgets That Exist Today

These devices may look like futuristic, sci-fi fantasies -- but they are here today.

Universal Translator

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.

[ Win this book! - ITworld is giving away 5 copies of Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content. Learn new techniques for defining keywords and get up-to-the-minute guidance on "writing for Google". Hurry! The drawing ends June 30. Enter now! ]

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.

You might also enjoy:

From The Labs: IT's Future Today

The Future of TV: 3D, WindowWalls, Visible Light Communication, and More

T.I.E. Fighters

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.

You might also enjoy:

From The Labs: IT's Future Today

The Future of TV: 3D, WindowWalls, Visible Light Communication, and More

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors