Tyler Vendetti
August 29, 2013 1:00 pm

Remember in Iron Man where Tony Stark designed rockets in mid-air simply by waving his hands around and talking to that hilarious robot assistant of his (that is not a reference to Gwenyth Paltrow, btw)? Well, Elon Musk, a tech-savvy Iron Man fan, who also happens to be the founder of Tesla, claims he has turned Iron Man’s vision into a reality. The CEO promised on his Twitter last week that he will be posting pictures of himself designing a rocket with his hand and immediately printing it in titanium. While a rich, superhero nerd designing a real-life sci-fi invention is cool, it is nothing new. Check out this list of inventions that were inspired by movies, shows, and books:

1) Invisible Cloak

At some point in elementary school or during one of those painful college icebreakers, you were likely asked the age-old question: if you could have any superpower, what would it be? While you probably said, “The power to eat as much candy as I want without getting sick” (in the case of college kids, replace candy with alcohol) in an attempt to be creative, in the back of your mind, you likely thought about invisibility first. Scientists at Hyperstealth Biotechnology have taken that secret desire to a whole new extreme by creating an invisible camouflage sheet, which bends light around a person or object (see cover photo). Take that, Harry Potter.

If you’re not a science-y person, this mug that I found on Pinterest is almost as magical.

2) Sonic Screwdriver

If someone were to create Doctor Who’s famous Sonic Screwdriver in real life, would they still call it by the same name? No. Apparently, they’d call it Sonotweezers. Professor Bruce Drinkwater (real last name) at the University of Bristol has developed a device that uses ultrasonic forces to rearrange biological cells or other small objects. While the prototype wouldn’t allow users to levitate their annoying siblings over a pool of crocodiles, it would come in handy when handling dangerous chemicals like anthrax or other (IMO, less useful) activities.

3) Self-Driving Car

Google’s next step in world domination involves a driverless car, as seen in movies like I, Robot. The vehicles would use laser radar to sense obstacles on the road, giving them a level of awareness that most human beings lack. The invention is not so far in the future and is said to debut in Nevada within the next 5 years. Maybe it will have its own Vegas show. People would go for that.  Who needs drivers when your car can Google all the answers to the driving test? Although, I’m still confused how a search engine developed an interest in driverless cars. (This story has so many opportunities for Google jokes, but I’ll refrain.)

4) ePaper

Laptops are getting smaller and thinner by the second. So small, in fact, that Sony has developed a one-of-a-kind upgrade: ePaper. Made of a plastic substrate, the device weighs 20g and is bound to make Apple developers jealous, if they aren’t already. It’s only a matter of time before they release their own version that can talk about Game of Thrones with you or do flips.

5) Hover Bike

I don’t play a lot of video games anymore but back in the day, I had a thing for the Jak and Daxter series, mostly because of the hoverboard the main character got to ride on in the second installment. An Australian man has discovered a way to one-up this invention with his own homemade hover bike. Made out of old motorbike parts, the machine uses massive propellers and a central engine to fly up to 173 miles per hour. And to think, you spent all that time fixing up an old Pontiac when you could have been building a hover vehicle. (Although, your Pontiac would be more affordable, considering the starting price of the bike would be around 40,000 dollars.) Star Wars also popularized this idea.

6) Holographic Performers

On the first day, tech Gods created telephones. On the second, they made Skype. Then, they watched Star Wars, and holographic images were born. Using a series of reflected images projected onto a special screen, scientists have been able to make 3D images that resemble those found in the popular Star Wars movies. The technology has been used in television specials (American Idol featured Celine Dion singing with Elvis a few years back) and even concerts. Hatsune Miku, a holographic singer created by Japanese scientists, boasts a list of sold-out concerts and venues. She’s not even real, you guys.

7) Force Fields

Force fields are the best upgrade in almost any video game involving alien battles, like Halo, but they would be even more influential if they could be used in real life wars. Luckily, military scientists have discovered how to equip armoured vehicles with mini-force fields on the battlefield. Using supercapacitors, which sends out pulses of electrical energy, and radars, these battle cars can sense incoming threats and put up a temporary force field. While it may not be effective in stopping machine gun fire, it may prevent rockets that explode on impact from reaching their target, which is always helpful.

8) Satellites

Not everything inspired by books and film are extravagant, however. Satellites found their humble beginnings in a magazine article written by author Arthur C. Clarke in 1945. Clarke described the concept of “geostationary satellites” in a piece he wrote for Wireless World 12 years before Sputnik found its way into outer space.

Image via Ecouterre.com. Info via Dvice.com.

Advertisement