Fiction to Reality: Smart Technology Origins

When people think about science fiction, they tend to focus on technologies that don’t exist yet but would make our lives so much cooler. Where are our flying cars? When will we become an interplanetary (or better yet, interstellar) society? Why can’t someone just figure out teleportation already?

Most people in the U.S. and Europe walk around with gadgets in their pockets that tell them how to get places, allow them to immediately communicate with their coworkers and loved ones, and take high-resolution pictures. These gadgets communicate with high power transmitters and receivers around the globe and can keep synchronized which is pretty miraculous. The global communication network has allowed us to synchronize our schedules to the oscillation frequency of cesium-133. Pretty awesome.

Click to open the full image

Science fiction, and the entertainment industry in general, often influences the way we think about ourselves, our world and the future. The Smart Tech Origins infographic compares a number of modern-day gadgets to what seemed unachievable at one time. Before the  flip phone, Captain Kirk and the cast of Star Trek used the “The Communicator”; before the tablet, characters on Star Trek used “The PADD (Persona Access Display Device)”. It’s interesting to note that for many of the gadgets highlighted the real thing is compared to their fictional counterparts.

Of course, no one expects science fiction to get everything right. But it’s interesting to reflect on how technology is often influenced by popular media. Steve Jobs was about eleven when the first Star Trek came out, so “The PADD” could have been an influence on the iPad. Perhaps we should pay a bit more attention when we watch a science fiction show or read a book. The next great idea or gadget could be right in front of us.

About the Author

Ivan Serrano is business journalist and infographic specialist located in Northern California. Check out his website at



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