Before you become overwhelmed by talks of the “digital age,” realize you don’t have to be a millennial to embrace technological advances. Sci-fi films and television shows of yesteryear provided a coincidental glimpse of life as we now know it. These classics celebrate a generation ahead of its time and paved the way for today’s virtual reality.
From Rosie the robot to jetpack transportation, this modern age cartoon family lived on the cutting edge of technology. While house robots and jetpacks haven’t yet made it into mainstream society, this 1962 series doesn’t seem so far-fetched today. The show’s portrayal of “the space age” (2062) depicts a working husband, George Jetson, communicating via video calls with his over-bearing boss Mr. Spacely. Today, applications like Skype and FaceTime make video chatting part of everyday life. As for jetpacks, space travel and robot nannies, we still have about 48 years to perfect the art, according to the show.
Back to the Future II
If you ever slightly envied Marty McFly’s ultra-nerdy yet awesome personal video glasses, you’re in luck. Though not yet available for general consumption, Google Glasses recently presented a slightly sleeker version of the bulky futuristic glasses depicted in the classic film. In the 1989 portrayal of life in 2015, JVC personal video glasses were used to watch television and talk on the phone via video call. The present day version does that and then some. The Internet-connected Google Glasses are built to do just about everything your smartphone does, without the need for handheld operations. The specs enable users’ ability to video chat, get directions, shop and translate languages in real-time and share information through voice activated commands.
Secret Agent Maxwell Smart had no shortage of gadgets to help him solve crimes. Always on the go, Smart counted on various means of communication. Known for the equally comical and innovative shoe phone, “Get Smart” fueled the idea of portable telephones. Among the many gadgets used in the 1965 detective series, Smart’s most ultra-portable device was disguised as a wrist watch. Animated detective TV shows including “Inspector Gadget” (1983) and “Dick Tracy” (1961) also showcased the super-secret talking device. Aspiring detectives can now own a modern version of the watch phone with Samsung Gear. The dual purpose accessory does much more than tell time — it pairs up with your smartphone to display messages, take phone calls and shoot photos and videos.
It may not seem that long ago but in 1990, the idea of a self-driving car was pure Hollywood filmmaking at its best. “Total Recall” set the stage as one of the first films to portray self-driving cars. No longer a thing of the past, autonomous vehicles are now part of the daily grind at Google headquarters. Though not available for retail, Google has road-tested a fleet of more than 20 self-driving vehicles in the past few years and has plans for a near-future launch to the public. With more states like California and Nevada legalizing self-driving cars, we might find ourselves in a real-life sci-fi adventure before we know it.