Bionic hands, hovercars, 3D chess, lightsabers (sort of) - here are the bits of Star Wars tech that have become reality
Just as no Back To The Future anniversary can go by without the internet hammering on the floor and screaming for its hoverboard, as if going to watch a film is the same as visiting a supermarket Santa Claus, every Star Wars Day (May the 4th) is awash with wanna-Kenobis pointing out that, since Star Wars is ancient history actually, we should surely have lightsabers on public sale by now.
Well aside from the fact that these things are the equivalent of carrying a collapsible samurai sword in your pocket – not something we need more of around the neighbourhood, thanks – lightsabers are actually almost a reality in 2017. They, like a bunch of other Star Wars sci-fi tech, are either on the verge of being perfected or already here. These are the gadgets that have already made the warp speed leap from Bilbousa bazaar to Amazon.
Remember the massive floating iPod that Luke drove around Tatooine before selling it to fund his trip to Alderaan? That was an X-34 Landspeeder, swiftly being outmoded by the more recent X-38 model but still perfect for negotiating rough desert terrains since it hovered a metre off the ground. Well, Moler International have invented one. The M200G Flyingcar can reach speeds of 50mph and hover ten feet above the ground. A snip at $90,000 to $125,000.
Stormtroopers. They go down like a pinball if you merely tap their heavy full-body armour with the butt of a blaster. They have the aiming ability of a blind mongoose – honestly, you’d win Marksman Of The Month on most Death Stars for managing to hit the ramp your target rebels are fleeing up. So it seems ridiculous that the Empire would have ditched the battle droids of The Phantom Menace in favour of this useless army of dicks. Our own military aren’t making the same mistake, instead moving away from human soldiers towards ‘BigDogs’, basically tooled-up remote-controlled robots that can navigate tricky terrains on its animal-style legs. All that’s left is to make them solar-powered otherwise, when they run out of petrol, they’re basically just an Amazon drone delivering heavy artillery to the enemy.
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In Star Wars, hologram technology was used to deliver vital information to the rebels which helped to bring down the Death Star and save the universe. In 2012, similar technology was used to show people what Tupac Shakur used to look like.
In A New Hope, Chewy and C-3PO played a game of holochess in which the 3D hologram pieces wandered around a circular board smashing the crap out of each other. Sony created something very similar for the PlayStation in 2010 with EyePet, which allowed the player to sit amongst all manner of augmented-reality creatures they can interact with, as viewed on any HDTV. 3D holographic monster Twister, anyone?
The days of real-life C-3POs having to have classically trained Shakespearean actors inside regretting their career choices are fast coming to an end. ASIMO, as seen on QI, is a humanoid robot invented by Honda that can cope with stairs, recognise faces and objects, run and even serve you booze. It’s only a matter of time before they start making odd-couple style double-act friendships.
Heads Up Displays
In the Star Wars universe it takes a seriously Forced-up mofo to hit a thermal exhaust port from an X-wing fighter without one, but now HUDs, common in modern fighter jets, are coming to the everyday motor car. Information on speed and navigation is already being beamed directly onto windscreens by companies such as BMW, with all new cars expected to take up the technology. Whatever next, Google you can get in your glasses?!?
Working Prosthetic Hands
A man claiming to be your father just lasered off your saber hand? Besides the obvious daddy issues, not a problem in Star Wars world – Luke gets an entire new working bionic hand. And you could to; Touch Bionic’s i-LIMB Pulse bionic hand reads the electric pulses in your arm and transforms the signals into finger movement. It’s Bluetooth compatible too, which probably mean that Apple will insist on them removing the headphone jack, if it has one.
Scientists are still having trouble convincing light to stay in a relatively solid and deadly tubular state so that we can strike people down with it to help them become more powerful than you can possibly imagine, but military companies have piled billions into developing laser weapons, with some limited success. The Airborne Laser was a plane modified to launch a continuous laser beam dubbed a ‘flying lightsaber’ intended to destroy enemy missiles, but it was scrapped in 2011 when it became clear they’d need to be flying inside enemy airspace to have enough strength to work. However, work continues on laser and plasma guns intended to replace stun guns by causing pain without injury – in 2013 the US Navy even shot down a drone using a laser gun. Presumably they didn’t get a stormtrooper to have a pop.