Posted by Danielle Goodman
The creative content of movies and TV shows have been inspiration to some real-life wearable gadgets of today, where the technology is finally becoming available to deploy the devices many of us grew up watching. The wild imaginations of these screenwriters illustrated functional, futuristic and creative technology they never could have guessed would be brought to life one day.
We took a pass at looking up some of our favorite wearables of the past, and were curious to see if modern-day equivalents existed or were currently in production.
In 1940 the comic series Batman debuted showing off some amazingly futuristic tech used by protagonist Bruce Wayne to protect Gotham City. Batman’s utility belt was outfitted with everything a hero could need - including his crime scene recorder, which was a mini camera with file management and sample collecting-capabilities.
Fighting supercrime aside, using clip-on mini cameras like Narrative enables us to easily capture any moment and keep them organized in the connected app. They might be designed for more relaxed memories, but the capabilities of this wearable are certainly impressive, and we could see Batman giving Narrative a whirl.
In 1966 the character Geordi La Forge appeared in the first season of Star Trek wearing the VISOR, a device that used sensors and filters to provide artificial eyesight. Born blind, Geordi got his first VISOR in Star Trek’s year 2371.
It looks like we may be ahead of their timeline, as eSight eyewear is already in development by an independent inventor to assist the visually impaired. The device combines high resolution video, high contrast display, zoom and color optimization to suit different visual needs. Though eSight is not yet advanced enough to give complete vision to the blind, it is a hopeful sign we are on the way.
Inspector Gadget’s quick thinking (and arguably more intelligent) niece Penny was one of the earliest adopters of a connected device. Using her advanced smartwatch, Penny was able to videochat with her uncle and sidekick, Brain, her pet dog - who also had similar wearable device.
We have seen plenty of smartwatches but it hasn’t been until recently that companies like Samsung have made Penny’s videochat capability a reality. The Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch has front facing video functionality that allows you to hear and see your contacts in real time - just in case Dr. Claw starts his meddling again.
If any plot was thickened by wearable technology, the James Bond series was it. Weapons, surveillance and communication tech galore helped Bond be the super spy he was. Among the coolest of 007s secret weapons was his Digital Binoculars which had the ability to focus and zoom into scenes, take photographs and even send those photos to be stored.
With the first prototypes of digital eyewear emerging as early as the late 1980s, smart glasses with Bond-like features are now starting to pop up everywhere. Bond would have embraced the technology of the pivothead smart glasses; the discrete wearable camera glasses that allow you to take high definition photo and video footage and easily download or sync to your devices.
The power laces on Marty McFly’s cool kicks in Back to the Future II really appealed to a kid’s desire to skip the laces and go. In the movie, the wearer puts on the shoes and activates an automatic “lace-up” to save the hassle of tying shoes.
Now, just as the film predicted, we might be seeing power laces available for sneakers in 2015. Whether it’s direct from Nike or from a San Francisco Kickstarter campaign automatic self-tightening laces will certainly be a unique, futuristic wearable that we, just like Marty, never would have seen coming.
These are only a handful of the oldest and most surprising predictions of wearable tech from the entertainment industry. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next, from both the worlds of “futuristic” imagination and wearable technology.