20 Movie Technologies That Should Have Been Invented By Now But Haven't

December 04 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 12 Hot

Movies sometimes have some pretty fantastical devices which we find hard to believe.  There's the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the deneuralyzer from Men in Black and of course the holodeck from the Star Trek franchise.  But some movies contain nifty gadgets and technology that seem simple enough to build or develop with current technologies.  I mean, it's almost 2009 for christsake.

1.  Safety Foam from Demolition Man

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In the movie Demolition Man, Stallone's character John Spartan gets into a high-speed car accident during an electric car chase through the future streets of San Angeles.  Instead of smashing to tiny bits, a foam fills the car and solidifies, saving his life and leaving him totally unscratched.  It would seem easy enough to create such a foam (there might be problems with people inhaling it as it expands) so why the heck isn't it in cars yet?

2.  Cold Fusion from The Saint

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In The Saint, Simon Templar steals notes from a scientist which, when arranged properly, show how to make cold fusion work.  While research into cold fusion technologies is progressing, it's kind of surprising there hasn't been a breakthrough yet in the field.  You'd think someone could at least prove that it can or can't work by now.

3.  Spy cockroach from The Fifth Element

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While development into cyborg spy-bugs is advancing at an alarming rate, it seems strange that we have yet to see the spy cockroach from The Fifth Element.  The brain of it can't be that complicated, its vision is amazing since I can never seem to be quick enough with my shoe, and they can squeeze just about anywhere.  DARPA, why are you lagging so far behind?

4.  The Power-Loader from Aliens

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Although the movie Aliens was pretty bad-ass, nothing quite beats the scene where Ripley fights the Queen in a Power Loader.  With one of these bad boys you can pick up just about anything, knock down just about anything, and it's way more fun than driving a forklift.  You may have even seen a demo of it in the movie Dave.  It takes hydraulics, a strong structure, and some basic movements — seems simple enough to me.  Maybe we'll see someone build it in their garage in the next few years.

5.  The skin-stitcher from Starship Troopers

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When Rico gets a sharp bug-leg stabbed through his thigh, it leaves a gaping hole that would seem impossible to stitch up.  Thankfully the base had a skin stitcher that made quick work of his injuries.  In mere minutes the mechanical arms stitched his leg back together again almost as good as new, yet here we are still dealing with needles and thread.  Sad.

6.  The Doomsday Device from Dr. Strangelove

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The whole idea is to have some sort of safeguard that makes it so any kind of nuclear attack anywhere in the world would trigger some sort of nuclear apocalypse.  A deterrent of that sort would make any kind of war with weapons bigger than a Tomahawk missile useless.  I guess the only reason no has built it yet is because they love their nukes.

7.  The Caterpillar Drive from The Hunt for Red October

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In The Hunt for Red October, the Russians have built a massive submarine which is capable of using water jets to propel itself through the water, making it virtually silent.  Studies on this technology have been going on since 1965 and yet we can't get it to move faster than 15km/h.  Where's our stolen submarine?

8.  The moon colony from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Of course the most memorable thing from 2001: A Space Odyssey is the Artificial Intelligence HAL (more on that below), but what about the moon colony?  Seems strange that people keep on talking about colonizing Mars when we haven't set foot on the Moon in decades.  By this point there should be a moon colony, that's all there is to it.  Just inflate some of those air-tight balloons and live in them for a few weeks, then we can get that out of our system and focus on Mars.

9.  Fully automated factory from I, Robot

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Will Smith in I, Robot, upon entering a fully robotic factory, utters "robots building robots, now that's just stupid."  And while it is stupid if you're building robots which will eventually enslave the human race, it's surprising that no fully-automated factories have popped up yet.  Another example is the car factory from Minority Report.  But it won't be long, everyone might be soon out of a job if Marshall Brain is right about his robotic workforce prediction.

10.  Artificial Intelligence from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Where is our Artificial Intelligence?  We've been working on it for decades and still can't seem to get anywhere close to a genuine AI.  Heck, I'll even take something like Johnny Five if we can't do HAL just yet.  It makes one even wonder if Artificial Intelligence can actually be attained or if the best we'll ever do is just a computer programmed with every possible scenario it might encounter.

11.  Faster than light communication from any space movie.

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While this may be a screenshot from the movie Serenity, the idea can be applied to most space-based movies.  Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost in Space, etc.  Of course the best description comes from the book Ender's Game with the Ansible, but sadly (or maybe thankfully for some) it's not a movie yet.  The idea is that you can communicate across any distance instantly with no delay.  Radio waves are limited by their wavelength which make long-distance calls somewhat awkward.  Since no one is really exploring space that much it's not too important, but you'd think it could be theoretically worked out through math by now.

12.  Digital Sex from Demolition Man

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Yeah, yeah.  We would all love to do it the old-fashioned way, but think about how much more intense a sexual encounter would be if you had a helmet which could tap into your pleasure zone.  Think of it as electronic stimulus for your brain and thoughts.  People already know where pleasure centers are in the brain, they just need to figure out a way to turn it on (ha).

13.  Custom drugs from A Scanner Darkly

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The drug in A Scanner Darkly splits a persons personality but what about stronger and more personal drugs?  LSD was invented about  40 years ago, and yet that seems to be the best we can do (other drugs are more addictive and expensive).  Imagine ordering drugs that can be made specific to your needs.  Sad?  Happy?  Going skydiving?  We've got the perfect match for you.

14.  Fake memories from Total Recall

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Remember that time you witnessed a plane crash?  How about witnessing the Tsunami firsthand during your vacation to Thailand?  Or that time you fell off of Mount Vesuvius?  Buy your dream vacation by tricking yourself into thinking you actually went somewhere.  It's somewhat possible using hypnosis or brain-washing, but what about actually programming sections of the brain to think a certain thought?

15.   Advanced skin-healing patches from Aeon Flux

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There's a scene in Aeon Flux where Aeon gets a nasty cut on her body which she needs to patch up quick.  She peels a skin-colored patch from her neck and places it over the cut, sealing it from further bleeding and healing the skin.  You could always go with duct tape or superglue yourself, but why no one has bonded these to something like moleskin is beyond me.  Are they afraid of being unable to remove it from the skin?  I'm bleeding everywhere, I could care less if I can't remove it for a few days.

16.  Human cyborg from Robocop

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The only thing cooler than Robocop is Robocop riding a unicorn.  While creating a cyborg rat is moving along quite nicely, we still have yet to see progress in the human world.  With better body parts being built everyday (artificial hearts, legs, arms) you wonder at what point you decide to get rid of your old body and exchange it for an awesome one.  Has no mad scientist used a human brain to control machines?  Honestly?  You mad scientists disappoint me.

17.  Space-Laser from Real Genius

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Lasers have been in the news a lot lately, and yet there is still no death ray on the market.  Sure there are lasers for cutting things and even a few in the battlefield, but our soldiers still have to fire bullets.  They've got the technology, what the heck is the hold up?

18.  Gun Kata from Equilibrium

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There are a ton of martial artists in the world, and yet few actually try and incorporate guns into their art.  The only thing more dangerous than a black belt is a black belt trained to use a gun.  You'd think they would teach Gun Kata to soldiers in the field or at least to people just for kicks.  I know it's fictional, but it can be a reality.

19.  STD-free sex from Logan's Run

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Ahhh, the future.  There are no STDs, you don't have to worry about pregnancy, and you are free to sleep with whomever you want.  While most people in the 70's declared that there will be an end to disease by 2000, we're all still waiting.  They confined smallpox to a lab, leprosy is on the down and out, and they almost got polio (thanks Northern Nigeria for helping save polio from eradication, we would have missed it dearly), but still there exists a ton of different STDs for us to infect each other with.  What's the deal?

20.  DNA-altering from GATTACA

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Before the movie GATTACA came out, they ran a series of fake ads on television declaring that imperfections in the DNA can be weeded out with current technology.  Using a fake company and a fake number, they received thousands of phone calls from people wanting to use the service.  We've mapped the genome, we can alter DNA, why not use it on genetic traits?  Sadly we have to wait a bit more for people to figure out what DNA sequence does what before they can start tinkering with your children.

Comment Thread (8 Responses)

  1. Phenomenal list. Could even be an ongoing mini-series as you think of the ‘promises’ sci-fi movies have made, as well as other SF media formats.

    Posted by: Adam Cutsinger   December 05, 2008
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  2. Sarcos has already started to develop exoskeletons making super-human strength almost a reality

    As for AI, a lot of these technologies take enormous computing power to do all the proper calculations and simulations. This stuff wasn’t feasible without the hyper-powerful calculators we have now…IBM & a consortium are going to simulate the human brain in 2013. 2013 is the same time we will reach 10 petaflops of computing power which is the raw processing power of the brain, purportedly. This is just to see how the brain works. DARPA and copious others are racing for friendly AI or HAL right now.

    Just because they hit some snags doesn’t mean they won’t arrive… Remember, we didn’t have the calculating force we have now back then. I am confident things will change. However, we might need xeraflop computing power or a quantum computer to figure out FTL communication. I have a theory it will be done by exploiting the strangeness of quantum mechanics.

    I don’t have much to say about cold-fusion but MIT just made a breakthrough in fusion power that looks promising even though it is still a few decades away.

    DNA altering is going to take some time but we’re sequencing genes at an even more rapid rate. In a few years, it will be dirt cheap to sequence anyones genome and we will rapidly unravel the mysteries of our genetics. There are also real breakthroughs with aging, etc.. It’s not hard to read the writing on the wall.. and I really don’t look to science fiction for forecasting the future.

    Posted by: Covus   December 05, 2008
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  3. One last thing: virtual sex is a reality. It’s just not that widely known. Kinda creepy, if you ask me though. If they add the force feedback or haptics it could go even further.

    Posted by: Covus   December 05, 2008
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  4. While you bring up some very interesting points, I have to say, I’m glad that SOME of these have not yet been invented…

    Posted by: chelss28   December 08, 2008
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  5. OK, you made such a misjudged blog it should not exist! you should do some research be fore going off to say which technologies should be built or not. 1/4th of the things you put in here already exist! you watch too much science fiction without looking in to the technology that might be able to drive it one day. the only thing you probably did was take one look at the REAL technology that exists. Do you even know about AI or neuroscience enough to go judging the scientist around the world. Jesus If you think this many things should be invented then why don’t you invent them and not say that the progression of knowledge is slow. Why don’t you look a little deeper into the science that drives AI, or lasers, or genetics or, biology, or astrophysics. If you really think that making an ADVANCED skin patch is that easy, then try making it YOURSELF or at least getting more of a better judgment than from movies

    Like I said from the beginning, please do some RESEARCH.

    Posted by: Eman96   January 24, 2009
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  6. #3 – Flies and cockroaches have been controlled by electronics. You really think they are going to publicize the next step when they are able to add video and a mic to it??

    #4 – Covus already posted on.

    #8 – Read more on the science and physics of it. We would need to come up with an artificial gravity generator. I can see them doing something as a research or testing laboratory; but not a colony. Mars would be a much more likely place for a colony. And for the record, Mars is in “our system.”

    #16 – You haven’t met anyone with multiple modern prosthetics then. Try watching this.

    #17 – The military hasn’t made a major small arms upgrade in over 40 years, what makes you think they are going to be in a hurry to jump ship to energy weapons. The M16 entered Army service in 1964, and although they’ve made some minor tweaks and improvements, troops are still using the M16 as their primary rifle. Think about the initial dangers, hesitations, and bureaucracy of introducing energy weapons; then think about the cost of producing two million units; then think about the man-hour cost of training 1.6 million troops (approx count of four US military branches).

    #19 & #20 – Won’t happen because of the Religious Right; or even because of religion in general. Too many people see STDs as punishment for sins; add to it that most STDs are not directly life threatening; then add the billions the medical industry receives from treating them; its not a priority (I know that sounds a bit ‘conspiracy theory’ but think about it). We should be close to DNA altering, but it won’t happen anytime soon because of religious groups that think this is playing God. Even once we are able to cure most/all disease through DNA manipulation the church will still oppose it.

    Posted by: Johnny   January 26, 2009
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  7. _> Forever In Love With All That Which Exists (That Which Is Seen & Unseen, Known & Unknown), -TM [Wednesday] 2:07 PM (9/16/2009)

    Posted by: TIGER M   September 18, 2009
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  8. Some Things that do actually exist in real life:

    Power loader – This does exist, and I remember seeing an article on the web somewhere about the US military using one for recovering nuclear accidents, but I can’t for the life of me find the article. I think it had tracks rather than legs, but allowed safe handling for the operator inside (thick leaded glass IIRC).

    Caterpillar drive – Otherwise known as a magnetohydrodynamic drive, was built into a prototype testing ship by the Japanese. Wasn’t really that efficient, and could only manage a maximum of 15 kts. And it wasn’t really that silent, either. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetohydrodynamic_drive

    Space LASER – This is really an assumption, however, high power military airborne and land-based LASERs currently exist, and I should imagine, given the military’s penchant for secrecy, that a space based LASER either already exists, or will exist in the next few years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YAL-1 I am unsure as to their corn-popping abilities, though :)

    Posted by: Jblogger   September 16, 2010
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