Written by Joshua Potts
There is rarely a sharper medium, for living out fantasies, than a film reel. Since you’re a tech nut like us, it’s only right that we get to a big screen appreciation of what we drool over in Hollywood’s visions of the future.
Well, the future isn’t always new and shiny: remember the dirty green font of the computer in Alien, packed into a teeny-weeny monitor? But it’s still ace and memorable. Gizmos represent the time in which they were conceived – as revealing about us, historically, as they are of the world in which they’re set.
Let’s cut the preamble and list some of the most jaw-smacking tech in the movies, eh?
The blasters in Star Wars
Lightsabers get all the credit. They buzz to life and cut people’s hands off, so that’s par the course for geeks who’ve venerated this weapon as the coolest thing ever to happen ever to a science fiction universe. Who couldn’t love a space sword?
This writer, however, wants to pass the Star Wars blaster guns the credit they deserve. If you close your eyes, and are asked to think of Han Solo et al, it’s probably the pew pew peeewwww of red and green bullets knocks around your brain (with more intensity than, say, the John Williams score behind them) that stands as the coup de grace of galactic weaponry.
In lieu of a warzone, you can pick up the delightful R2D2 Sphero, mimicking the iconic droid rattling about your home. He boops, beeps and whistles. He’ll also go bananas when you play a Star Wars film, doing that lil’ waddle on your coffee table.
Samantha in Her
Joaquin Phoenix was so good in 2013’s Her – not good enough, though, to top the purring complexity of Scarlett Johansen, who lives inside his laptop. Samantha is Siri with a ‘relationship’ setting; a weird, likeable and uncannily seductive operating system, who falls for Phoenix’s Theodore in the throes of his loneliness.
The story plays with our assumptions about human behaviour, to the extent that dating an app doesn’t seem so bad. Until the end, of course, when we discover Samantha has been loving hundreds of people simultaneously behind Theo’s back. Yet it’s testament to the skill behind the camera, and the script, that we root for a man/machine coupling so hard.
Perhaps Google Home will gain a suitor soon – it can already understand multiple voice commands in the same sentence, and play us a song on request. Some relationships don’t even go that far.
The neuralyzer in MIB
Men In Black was a sensation in the late 90s. It was fun, sharp and stacked with charisma, thanks to the pairing of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones: a double act you’d never have pegged in your craziest dream casting call.
As a team, they scored some awesome moments, some of which involved their neuralyzer – a device that wipes our memory clean. Put sunglasses on; FLASH; then say whatever you want to fill in the gaps. Most of us, really, would go insane with such power... But it doesn’t stop us wanting that darn glow-up pen to help us lie about walking the dog.
The closest we get, in real life, might just be the LED Light Pen by Glovion: a memory machine of a sort, but more about giving them as late-night writing under the covers.
The motorcycle in the Dark Knight
Hands down the best superhero series (so far), Nolan’s Batman trilogy is steeped in hi-tech gear, from Bruce Wayne’s parachute cape to the sonar he uses on moody rooftops. How else are we meant to be believe that a billionaire psycho can avoid a jail cell? The realism is the charm; we’re eternally grateful for it.
And that persist through to the best film in the franchise, 2008’s The Dark Knight, which drops our hero in a chase with the Joker. His car is knackered. Hope is wavering. Then the nose of the vehicle opens, and Bats come screaming out of it on a motorcycle that can reposition itself in mid-air. Gahhh! Give us one, pretty please!
Meanwhile, there’s a smart bike helmet at the final prototype stage. A mass market variant is scheduled for the end of 2018, so watch out for a piece of motorcycle gear that can integrate Bluetooth and real-time mapping in the visor.