- Smartwatch in action

The Tech That We Once Saw in Movies That Exists Now

An insight into the tech that was once an imaginative part of a movie and has become an everyday part of our lives in the real world.

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When it comes to movie technology, there’s no limit on the imaginative power that writers can have, but it seems that as technology advances in the real world the tech inventions seen in old movies don’t seem so novice anymore. Sometimes the audience doesn't know if real life tech influences the movies or if the movies influence real life tech.

Smartphones and wearables in the movies

The global domination of smartphones over the last decade has led to a state of mind that we can’t function without our phones. User’s lives are on smartphones, not only when it comes to communication, but also navigating their personal life. Statistics have shown that 94 percent of 18-24 year olds in the United Kingdom use their smartphone as a regular form of internet access which just shows the commonality of the device. It has now become an expectation for people to use smartphones in their day to day life and for work expectations too.

This was once seen in the movies as something that was an advanced piece of technology before it became so normalised. Martin Copper was the inventor of the first mobile phone and said he got his inspiration from StarTrek:The Original Series and Movies - Communicator and Tricorder. When the series came out the cast used handheld devices to communicate to each other which very much looked like a flip phone. This has now translated into what we now know as a flip phone and in turn mobile phones.

The evolution of mobile phones has led to what we now know as smartphones and wearables that can be used alongside them. The concept of a mobile phone has also been seen in movies and TV from before the Star Trek decades and in entertainment from over 70 years ago. Dick Tracy was a comic strip that followed the story of a police detective and featured his two-way wrist radio which was then upgraded to a two-way TV later in the 1960s. Seems familiar, doesn’t it? Other sci-fi comics and characters were using walkie-talkies and radio to communicate, but Dick Tracy was ahead of its time with the wristwatch. This aligns with the modern day smart watch, which is essentially a tv on our wrist with the ability to allow us to communicate with others. This is a reality for us now.

The showcase of mobile devices has been seen throughout the history of the movie world and has been reflected in what we now use today and of course wasn’t missed out in the classic films. The James Bond franchise has never let the audience down when it comes to using gadgets and is famous for the technology used to complete missions. In the second Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan, Tomorrow Never Dies featured Bond with a mobile phone (The Ericsson JB988) with extra features including a fingerprint scanner. At the time, we can assume it would be surprising for the audience to think that fingerprint scanners would be a normality for the future of mobile phones. From the screens and advanced tech of the 007 spy to modern day times, the fingerprint scanner is used now for us to unlock our phones and gain access to various apps and accounts. This smartphone feature is now used to help us pay for things using our mobile phones and ensure personal security to our mobile phones.

Alongside the smart watch and smart phone, smart eyewear is something that is entering the tech market more and more. These futuristic glasses have been seen in movies such as Spy Kids and have manifested themselves to give us communicative and audio uses, as well as in lense functions. Eyewear technology is still something that is very much in development, but will most definitely become more popular wearables in the future.

Video Calls and Conferencing

As the pandemic and lockdown has facilitated video calls more than ever, they have been showcased in the world of science fiction movies from extremely early on. Video calls made their appearance in the 1927 movie Metropolis and were displayed as a mounted videophone on the wall. Since this movie, video conferencing and calling has made an appearance in movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Back to the Future II and so many more.

In modern day, video calls are just as prominent in movies and have not lost their effectiveness even though they are now an everyday part of our lives. Businesses have become more and more reliant on video conferencing apps such as Skype, Zoom and Google Teams. And now video calling is more accessible than ever before, with smartphones facilitating mobile video calls.

Voice Activated Computers

Within the scientific movie industry, voice-activated devices are pretty much in the rubric. It is simply a case of getting and receiving. Voice recognition has been around for nearly 50 years, and a notable movie voice-assisted computer is, of course, J.A.R.V.I.S in the Iron Man movies.

Although J.A.R.V.I.S is a voice assisted computer and can essentially do anything, including operating a technologically advanced suit, there are similarities to the virtual assistants that are available in the modern day real world. Siri and Alexa are breakthrough activated technology that can answer users' questions and even fulfill commands for the user. For example, asking your virtual assistant to call someone or set a reminder for later in the day. When it comes to the technology seen in movies that now exist, voice activation is most definitely a tech feature of prominence.

The voice activation is not only used for computers, but is also a tool used within the world of wearables. Implementing Alexa, Siri or other virtual assistants on smartwatches, smart eyewear and any future smart wearables has made it more user friendly and a more relied upon technology.

Virtual Reality Devices

Virtual Reality Devices are seen predominantly in the gaming world, but are also a commonality in movies. In The Matrix, the premise is based on the character being plugged into a virtual reality and their body is connected to a virtual reality device. This envisioned reality is a very extreme version of the virtual reality that we see in the real world.

Virtual Reality in the real world is much more subtle than seen in movies, however, it can seem more realistic than ever when wearing the device. Used to simulate experiences, this type of technology is not only used by a single user at a time, but is also used in theme parks with virtual rides and in cinemas with 3D technology. It has become so woven and adapted into modern day that there is almost a spectrum of virtual reality intensity that is still very much being developed. Virtual reality headsets provide the most intense experiences, but actually making a wearer feel as though they are in a certain environment and it will be interesting to see where this type of technology will go into next and if one day it may be able to simulate a completely alternate reality.

Movies are a great way to envision a piece of technology that is used by a character and takes great imagination to do so. It is fascinating to see that over the years, technology that was once restricted to fiction has now become a part and parcel part of everyday life. The developments and advancements within the technology space seem to have very little boundaries and it will be interesting to see how the appearance of certain technologies within the movie world will change in the future.

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