10 Inventions Inspired by Science Fiction


Scientists may be bright, but they aren’t
the only people capable of thinking up cool inventions. In fact, sometimes inventors need a little
inspiration from those with less technical know-how. Although we’re still waiting on the hoverboards
from Back to the Future, many of our biggest and most unexpected achievements in technology
have come to us thanks in part to out-of-the-box ideas spawned by science fiction authors and
filmmakers. 10. The Flip Phone While it’s hard for many of us to remember
a time when people weren’t so attached to cell phones, mobile devices haven’t always
been permanent staples. Nor have they always been sleek and convenient
— in 1996, Motorola made an effort to improve the cell phone industry by offering the StarTAC
flip phone, a small, stylish alternative to other mobile devices. It bore a strong resemblance to the clamshell
communicators on Star Trek and was the first cellular phone to provide a vibration mode. It was also the lightest phone on the market
at the time. Although StarTAC users couldn’t quite play
Angry Birds, it was a huge improvement from existing technology. Martin Cooper, Motorola’s director of research
and development, said that the objective in creating the first mobile phone, released
in the 1970s, was to create a design similar to that of the phones on Star Trek. Which, ironically, are now vastly inferior
to our own. 9. The Taser Long gone are the days when police only used
Tasers to incapacitate hooligans. Inspired by a concept Jules Verne proposed
in the 1700s, Taser International’s wireless projectile Taser shotgun bullet is truly something
out of science fiction. However, even the standard Taser has sci-fi
origins. Jack Cover, inventor of the Taser, was inspired
by science fiction stories produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a company that churned
out books for young adults. Their stories featured several inventions
that later became realities, such as the “photo telephone,” or modern fax machine, and a
“house on wheels,” which predated the modern mobile home. Cover figured that if authors could invent
something, so could he. “Taser” is short for “Thomas A. Swift’s
Electronic Rifle,” a homage to a character in one of Cover’s favorite novels. Without the Stratemeyer Syndicate and authors
like Jules Verne to excite researchers, we might not have devices like Tasers. 8. Tablets We’ve all seen someone flicking through
a tablet computer in public over the last few years. However, tablets were thought of long before
they really existed. Star Trek: The Next Generation featured touch-based
tablets called PADDS, short for “personal access display devices.” Sound familiar? They resemble the tablet computers we use
today. However, the show’s art director, Matt Jefferies,
created the tablet-like PADDS as an improvisation because his department had a small budget. Throughout the course of the show the device
remained believable, as everything it could potentially do was a product of high-tech
software. Like the tablets of today, Star Trek’s mobile
computers featured smooth hardware and impressive software. However, since they weren’t really functional,
the PADDS’ visuals were primarily accomplished through editing. As a result, simple tasks that seem like second
nature to us today, like zooming in and out on an iPad, took time in post-production. If only tablet computers existed when The
Next Generation was produced, the show could have saved time and money in the editing room. 7. Universal Translators Today, anyone can whip out a smartphone, select
the right app, and have a passable conversation with a stranger in just about any foreign
country. However, universal translators have permeated
science fiction for a lot longer than they’ve actually existed in the real world. In 1945, Murray Leinster’s novella First
Contact was one of the first stories to boast instant universal translators. Later, Star Trek included its own device. Even Douglas Adams included a universal translator,
the babel fish, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Fortunately, real-life researchers have been
working at making these fictional devices possibilities. At 2014’s Code Conference, Microsoft’s
CEO Satya Nadella announced the Skype Translator, a new feature that aims to bring diverse people
together. Microsoft is keeping quiet about how many
languages the Skype Translator will cover, but the technology behind universal translation
exists and is rapidly growing. 6. Holographic Communicators While the Star Wars series inspired the research
of life-changing technology ranging from lightsabers to warp drives, it also inspired the creation
of more practical, everyday gadgets like holographic communicators. Ostendo Technologies Inc. has developed a
tiny projector that can be placed in devices like mobile phones, TVs, tablets, and even
smart watches. Ostendo’s projector allows people to see
3D images without 3D glasses — eventually, this technology could be used to send holographic
communications just like in Star Wars. Messaging as we know it could evolve as a
result of this research. Much of our communication is expressed non-verbally
— there are simply things that you can’t adequately communicate with just your voice
or text. The perfection of Ostendo’s research could
mark a huge transformation in the effectiveness of communication technology. Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and other companies
are also researching holograms. HP even affectionately named their study Project
Leia. 5. House Cleaning Robots Robots programmed to complete chores are no
strangers to science fiction — partly because people have fantasized about someone else
doing their housework for centuries. Luckily, house cleaning robots are no longer
exclusive to The Jetsons. Even though the robots cleaning your home
might not have as much personality, they’re definitely effective. Massachusetts-based company iRobot delivered
its line of vacuum cleaners to curious consumers in 2002. Their devices minimize the effort needed to
clean, and scheduling systems integrated into many robotic cleaners create peace of mind. Unless your have a cleaning emergency, you
won’t need to tell the machines what to do and when to do it. And as far as products like the Roomba go,
very little maintenance is involved. Typically, consumers only need to empty the
vacuum’s dustbin when it’s full. iRobot has also released robotic gutter cleaners,
mops, and pool cleaners. Of course, robots in science fiction have
had other jobs as well. In Terminator robots serve as soldiers. In Robot and Frank, robots help to care for
the elderly. What will the robots of our future be able
to do? 4. Floppy Disks and USB Drives Hardly anyone uses floppy disks anymore, but
Star Trek played a role in inspiring digital portable storage. The characters inserted small, square disks
into computer consoles in order to save information. Although not as small or convenient as modern
or fictional storage devices, the 3.5-inch floppy disks popular in the 1980s and ’90s
were very much similar to the technology used on the show. Portable storage techniques continued to develop
on Star Trek: The Next Generation, partly due to an effort to keep the series’ fictional
technology evolving alongside real world technology. For example, the show featured chips that
could store several gigabytes of data. USB drives can store amounts of information
comparable to the chips on the show, which is much, much more data than our old floppy
disks could hold. In fact, USB drives can now store a terabyte
of information, proving that reality is still capable of surpassing fiction. 3. GPS In 1995, thirty years after the concept debuted
on Star Trek, the United States deemed a Global Positioning System a functional concept. America launched 27 Earth-orbiting satellites
in order to test it. From then on, GPS technology has continued
to evolve. Today, GPS systems in cell phones serve commonplace
tasks like locating travel destinations and helping stores figure out the patterns in
which customers move. Although Star Trek influenced the invention
of many vital devices, author Arthur C. Clarke did some inspiring of his own in 1956. His writing about satellites encouraged the
development of high-speed communication systems. These communication systems are responsible
for everything from letting you talk to people on your cell phone to finding your current
location. On Star Trek, the Enterprise crew was located
on the ground and beamed up by using GPS. However, without a little inspiration from
people like Clarke, no one would have had the chance to say, “Beam me up, Scotty.” 2. Diagnostic Bed Ever wish you could avoid back-to-back doctor’s
appointments, invasive diagnostic surgeries, and unpleasant tests? Ever hope that one day you could simply lie
in bed and get a surefire diagnosis? Well, your day has come — at one British
hospital, you can do all of these things. The hospital’s space-age sickbay detects
illnesses ranging from stomach viruses to cancer. The machine itself contains an astounding
variety of equipment, including parts of probes designed for Mars missions. The technology is compared to the scanners
that Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy swept in front of bodies to diagnose illnesses. The real-world technology relies on state-of-the-art
imaging systems and diagnoses disease by honing in on sights, sounds and smells. The best part about it? None of the diagnostic tools used by this
technology are invasive. Unfortunately, unlike with Dr. McCoy’s invention,
patients using the diagnostic bed still need to be hooked up to equipment for monitoring. 1. Earbuds Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451 predicted
that society would be addicted to media and entertainment. The book proposed that along with television,
“thimble radios” and “seashells,” which are essentially earbuds, would be how
people sought out their information. These devices would occupy people with sounds,
music, and talk shows. A society not permitted to read needs some
kind of pastime, right? Even though the story was published in 1953,
it predicted numerous forms of technology, many of which are common today. Walls of televisions emphasized how technology
addiction affected the characters living in Bradbury’s dystopia. A glance around any college campus will prove
that people are hooked to their earbuds. Although books haven’t been banned, people
today are absorbed in technology — only now, the TVs and radios that call us away
from our loved ones can fit in the palms of our hands.

85 Comments

  1. May 67 said:

    Hello Simon!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  2. NATIVE LATINOS Fook TRUMP said:

    🎧I only buy earbuds with strings on them or else I lose them

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  3. MyDaRkN3SsLiV3s said:

    Hello professor Simon, here bright and early!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  4. HighlandRocket said:

    VIBRATION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  5. Sam Rios said:

    This guy makes my work days go by faster

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  6. Sam Rios said:

    3 jobs later I still listen to this guy on my down time

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  7. NATIVE LATINOS Fook TRUMP said:

    🍔 I'm like a smart person I know the biggest words believe me I'm a very stable genius I'm the chosen one

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  8. Just Some Bigfoot With Internet Access said:

    I need to invent some kinda device to keep people out of my woods

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  9. 𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕣𝕠𝕡𝕪 said:

    10 minutes in, and no f-word in the comments. Nice!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  10. Bluthund-Raziel said:

    I want to take a few minutes to give my heartfelt thanks to the team of TopTenz and the sister channels that sprouted from it – Today I Found Out, Biographics, Geographics – for accompanying me as I spent time working on artwork while your videos inject fascinating information into my mind. While this information are not inspiration for my creative processes, I thoroughly enjoy all the knowledge presented in these videos. Thank you.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  11. KamenSentaiMetalHero 2000 said:

    I think it's more accurate to call this video 10 inventions inspired by Star Trek. Although you do mention other science fiction works, you mainly mention Star Trek.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  12. Dave Dörenberg-Veltman said:

    5 views and 14 likes. Googles algorithm is not accurately again. 😕😕

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  13. D Davis said:

    Thank you Simon

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  14. Bojan Lazarevski said:

    Now flying car

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  15. Daisy Peters said:

    Very interesting your video, in this moment I need something to do it. Many thanks, Simon! Sure I 'll invent it!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  16. symelian said:

    The first showing of a tablet-like device was before it was shown in Star Trek – In "2001: A Space Odissey" (1968) the crew reads news on tablets …. That's much earlier. Star Trek had a much more robust usage. Nevertheless, they're not the first.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  17. Jeffery beaty said:

    Kirk never said beam me up scotty

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  18. AM B said:

    Warp drive is Star Trek, not Star Wars.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  19. jon bovie said:

    Did you mention the beam me up scotty thing to see how many people's heads explode in the comments?

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  20. Backoff Cyberdime said:

    1995 for GPS? Maybe the first civilian GPS, but the U.S. military used GPS in 1991 in the Persian Gulf War.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  21. Hunter D said:

    Just 10? How about a 1000? 😉

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  22. Tabby Smithfield said:

    Gotta love the word “hooligans”!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  23. Emil Andreasson said:

    Ok boomer

    Now laugh

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  24. Leo Moretti said:

    First

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  25. lexzbuddy said:

    I hate video conferencing. Its truly ridiculous and 3d is even further from necessary.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  26. Dan Brawn said:

    I really liked this episode. I had completely forgotten that Farenheit 451 had so many futuristic ideas in it. Thank you for that reminder. I will have to go back and reread it again. I hope you can find more stories like these in the future. Or the present or past depending on your point of view.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  27. Norman Fleming said:

    Love anything showing how SF predicts/causes the future.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  28. Daniel Menzies said:

    in Star trek TNG, every time the computer would malfunction it would start playing a random song. Data would know the name of that song instantly.

    And thus Shazam was born

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  29. highlanderknight said:

    Yes, I guessed The Jetsons!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  30. Christel Headington said:

    #7 Having received computer translated e-mails I do not place much faith in conversations done the same way. Maybe for finding a bathroom… #2 Still have to clip an ET finger on to measure oxygen levels.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  31. André Sarmento said:

    Star Trek today is not inspiring at all.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  32. BGr said:

    majQa' SoHvaN noN veqlargh tlhInganpu' (universal translator required)

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  33. NATIVE LATINOS Fook TRUMP said:

    🍺 Syfy predicted decades before the technology we have today

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  34. Eek-A-Mouse Fan said:

    Do 10 Awkward Stories in the Koran.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  35. Gordon Marshall said:

    I know what robots will do next

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  36. BGr said:

    Project Silica may be another example of science fiction inspired technology.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  37. 𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕣𝕠𝕡𝕪 said:

    First

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  38. Raydeus said:

    This is the part where we point out flip phones are kinda making a resurgence thanks to foldable screens. And yes I'll get one of those Motorola Razr phones as soon as the issues are ironed out.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  39. andymouse123 said:

    Star Trek gave us Buses… they had a device you stepped into, and then you stepped out again at another location.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  40. Joshua Hunt said:

    Star Trek: (Has example of GPS)
    USA: “Wait. That’s plausible!”

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  41. Corvo Fox-Gray said:

    Been waiting on my jet pack since the 70’s..

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  42. ewok40k said:

    Star wars: Lukes prosthethic hand inspired modern bionic prosthethics… And militaries worldwide are working on equivalent to Ghost in the shell thermooptical camouflage…

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  43. Rose Smith said:

    Just goes to prove Sci-fi it may not predict the future but gives us crazy ideas for fabulous gadgets. The Flip phone was also an answer to embarrassing Butt-dials!!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  44. Scraps G said:

    Gps technology already existed long before 1995, that was when the us military made it available for everyone.. satellite navigation was made available to help industry, in perticular the airline industry..

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  45. Nancy said:

    If we were waiting ON hoverboards from Back to the Future they would have already been invented and we would be waiting FOR something else. The English language is going down the drain!

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  46. Simon Rancourt said:

    Tablets where seen in 2001, A Space Oddissey

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  47. David Burgin said:

    In "Robot and Frank" the robot helps commit felony burglary.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  48. Kevin C said:

    Actually Star Trek's communicators are still superior to cell phones insofar as they can communicate with nearby spaceships and do not appear to require any sort of infrastructure.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  49. Roger B said:

    The medical industry should invent a giant diagnostic device to shove up people's butts so we can feel the resemblance of the debilitating pain from medical bills to the pain of the device.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  50. David Mcmahon said:

    The original Tom Swift.  Managed to get my hands on about a dozen of those novels published from the early 1900s to the 1930s.  Those books are the first ones to every make me laugh out loud and didn't care I did it in public.  Tom bursts into a room where his teen enemy bad guy trying to kiss Tom's girl and he yells out, "You Cad You!"  I had never actually seen that line written before then.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  51. Plinkitee said:

    I will freely admit the Star Trek geek in me really misses the flip phone.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  52. The Presence said:

    Alternate Title: Why Star Trek is Awesome (and other SciFi)

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  53. twocvbloke said:

    That one little idea by Gene Roddenberry, and all those inspired inventors, it's quite the chain reaction really, without Star Trek, the world we live in today would probably be very different technology-wise… 🙂

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  54. John Stevenson said:

    When they perfect the holodeck, I ain't ever coming out.

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  55. Throws Bear said:

    GPS is called project LORAN

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  56. MIMisguided said:

    I was going to lose it and un subscribe it you skipped the Babal Fish

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  57. Matt Cook said:

    Love that description for this video.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  58. Michael Louton said:

    Definitely found this video interesting, thank you for another great video. Keep it up.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  59. myflock 2.0 myflock 1/2 said:

    #10 that was my 1st cell i was a senior in high school.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  60. Charlie Cross said:

    I still think robotic vacuum cleaners ought to be rated by how many cats they can carry

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  61. INvalidSYNapse said:

    Biographics on the K-T impactor.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  62. John Patrick Cryan said:

    Rumba reminds me of a Ray Bradbury stories, the ocupents of a home are long gone but the house lives on.. lots of Bradbury comming to lite…

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  63. George Sulea said:

    "small square disks…"

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  64. Angela Williams said:

    Actually, no one ever said "Beam me up, Scotty" in the entire run of Star Trek

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  65. Alan Cring said:

    I keep several of my flip phones in my office and occasionally show them to students. Some students hold them as if they're magical antiques from another realm. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who wants to get away from these modern rectangular dinner plate phones and get some modern version of those classic beauties. It would need a virtual keyboard to handle to modern texting facility, and it would need the ability to run a few critical apps, but certainly not the loads of garbage apps that swamp phones these days. Motorola would have served a rather significant consumer base if, instead of creating that obscenely expensive new "foldable" phone, it had just updated its flip phones.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  66. bat man said:

    Haha! 3:01 I never thought i'd see Finnish anywhere. It says "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
    Minus points for it NOT BEING ON A NOKIA!!!

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  67. Michael Mills said:

    Don't forget the waterbed: Robert A. Heinlein described it in "Stranger in a Strange Land".

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  68. freddie naputi said:

    Just curious Mr. Whistler, any relation to artist James Whistler?

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  69. David Jennings said:

    The Mote in Gods Eye featured hand held tablet computers connected wirelessly to a network.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  70. Chad Jones said:

    I call most of this tech Startrecknology.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  71. You damn savage said:

    Can we get a top ten top tenz list

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  72. J. P. said:

    I actually had the StarTac (and think I still have it around somewhere).

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  73. J. P. said:

    It’s funny, Tom Cruise tried to credit Minority Report for the creation of the ipad. Don’t get me wrong, I love that movie, and it’s vision of the future seemed pretty accurate, I just think it’s funny to see how out of touch he was to not know the concept had already been introduced.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  74. avg joe gaming said:

    Basically all of them.
    Science fiction is a precursor to science fact

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  75. Thomas Zielke said:

    I think out of all of these, I'd like to see a real-life Babel Fish created.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  76. Matthew Trzcinski said:

    Tablets with moving images were in 2001: A Space Odyssey

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  77. HandcuffGirl2 said:

    Um, Warp Drive is Star Trek. Star Wars has lightspeed/hyperdrive. Spaceballs has Ludicrous speed.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  78. Ralph Lauren said:

    We need a lie detector and DNA app

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  79. Светлана Мацибора said:

    You are so great! Thank you!

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  80. flamencoprof said:

    Butthurt Boomer comments: – It often surprises me that not young people, but many entertainment products portray someone of my age (late sixties) as a decrepit old person who couldn't turn on a cellphone, when in reality people my age have read the old Sci-Fi, watched Science catch up with the visions of the Fifties, and actually participated in that development. In contrast, when I was 15, a 65yo was born before cars were invented, before Einstein ever published.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  81. Rebekah Spears said:

    Star Trek was a great inspiration for a great many "gadgets" and modern day technology, and many cited ST as their inspiration for getting into engineering or medical fields.

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  82. Sam Qu said:

    One that is well known is how similar Bluetooth earpieces are to what was used in the original star trek by Uhura at the communications console

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  83. jamesmcd3r said:

    Looking at tech to come, like the holograms and the diagnostic bed was interesting. I think the video would have been better to keep it as tech everyone was using today. Submarines and rockets to the moon were also tech inspired by sci-fi. It's too bad they weren't included instead. Still, it was a fun video to watch. =)

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  84. annoyed chef said:

    Hyvää joulua 😀 Why the hell you guys wanted to put that in the traslator part?

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  85. kamenwaticlients said:

    The MRI and Blutooth ear piece are also inspired by Star Trek

    November 20, 2019
    Reply

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