tricorder

Weekend Roundtable: Sci-Fi Gadgets You Wish Were Real

Phasers and tricorders, flying cars and spaceships that travel faster than light…. Of all the things we love about science fiction stories, it’s the advanced technology that so often captures our imagination the most vividly. In today’s Roundtable, we highlight the sci-fi gadgets and hardware (whether from movies, TV, books, comics, videogames, etc.) that we wish we could have in the real world today.

Daniel Hirshleifer

Well, this one is easy. Every single day, I wish to have a TARDIS of my very own, just like ‘Doctor Who‘. I’d travel all over time and space, having adventures, never living a normal life like everyone else. And, of course, I’d offer a few select friends the chance to travel with me for as long as they’d like. Yep, a TARDIS is definitely the sci-fi device I’d want the most.

Shannon Nutt

My first answer to this question was going to be a DeLorean time machine, but then I realized that if the ‘Back to the Future’ films taught me anything, it’s that traveling through time can cause more harm than good. So, I instead have to go with a holodeck, as seen in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘. I could use the holodeck to re-create any point in history safely, without worrying about screwing up a timeline… but let’s be honest, the first thing any of us would do is conjure up a fantasy with our favorite female (or male) movie star. Since this isn’t that kind of web site, I won’t go into details!

Tom Landy

This is an easy one for me: Transporters, hands down. Travel just isn’t my cup of tea. I’d much rather do something productive than be stuck in a car or on an airplane for more than an hour. Transporters would solve that problem by allowing me to beam from one place to another practically instantaneously – and for a terrific price! Of course, transporter accidents are a concern, however, and I’d hate to be the next Tuvix. That dude was hella-creepy.

Bryan Kluger

My first choice would definitely be the U.S.S. Enterprise from ‘Star Trek‘, as I would want to embark on a five-year journey through space to discover new life on other worlds. I’d do that in a heartbeat.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Maybe January’s a little early to start writing up a Christmas list, but put me down for a Miracle Machine. If you’re a longtime reader of DC’s ‘Legion of Super-Heroes’ comics like I am, maybe you already know how the Miracle Machine can reshape reality based on the thoughts of anyone in its presence. It’s a mechanized “I wish for infinite wishes,” so it’s like having everything else in this Roundtable and then some! Of course, reshaping the world around you with a passing thought can be awfully dangerous in its own right, but I have a Bismollian on speed dial to eat it if things go haywire.

Mike Attebery

The first and only gadget that comes to mind is a time-traveling DeLorean. I’d prefer the Flux Capacitor to be in working order, but even if it’s a second-hand vehicle with a non-working time machine feature, I could still use the wheels. You can keep the Mr. Fusion, though. That thing really screwed up the lines.

Luke Hickman

Without any question, there’s only one correct answer to this question: hoverboards. We’re only one year away from the future seen in ‘Back to the Future Part II‘, so someone needs to get to work. I’ve never been one for skateboarding, but I wouldn’t hesitate to give it everything I’ve got to be a pro hoverboarder.

M. Enois Duarte

We were promised flying cars by 2015 in ‘Back to the Future Part II’, so where the heck are they at?! The filmmakers amusingly predicted large flat panel TVs hanging on walls, internet video chats like Skype and the revival of 3D movies thanks to better technology. I couldn’t care less about hoverboards, especially since Mattel would make them pretty damn ugly anyways. I only want my flying DeLorean – and perhaps Elizabeth Shue riding along by my side – but there’s a good chance they still won’t be able by next year. That totally sucks!

Josh Zyber

‘Star Trek’ is such a technology-focused vision of the future, it’s only natural that so many of our choices in this Roundtable would be drawn from that franchise (much more so than ‘Star Wars’, which is more fantasy than science fiction in many respects). ‘Trek’ has also proven to be extremely prescient, in that many of the devices imagined in it eventually manifested as daily reality for us today. When the little tricorder box with a million functions first appeared on screen in the original series, it must have seemed like magic to the viewers of 1966 – yet the smartphone I carry in my pocket right now has almost as many features and probably more computing power, and I’m pretty sure that Siri can do anything the Enterprise’s talking “Library Computer” could.

With that in mind, how much longer will it be before someone invents a Universal Translator? Conceived as little more than a plot convenience to explain why characters from different cultures and planets across the galaxy all seemed to speak fluent English, this wondrous (and unseen!) device would be tremendously useful to me as I ponder what the Chinese couple sitting across the aisle from me on the subway are really talking about. Sure, I suppose I could take a language class or something, but that sure would be a lot of work, especially when there are so many languages in the world to learn. Isn’t the whole point of technology to solve inconveniences like this for us?

What sci-fi doodad do you wish you could own for real? Tell us in the Comments.

14 comments

  1. njscorpio

    I always wanted that kitchen device from The Jetsons that would make whatever food you wanted instantly. If not that, I’d settle for a Rosie the Robot.

  2. Alex

    Gotta agree with Shannon on this one. Unfortunately, if we ever invent a holodeck, no one will ever leave the house again. Civilization will be doomed!!

  3. Elizabeth

    Maybe I’m being too humanitarian, but I wish the medical care devices from Elysium were real. Of course, to follow that up they’d have to be available to the general public not just in the hands of the rich and elite.

  4. The ability to travel by ship to other worlds in reasonable amounts of time, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, all have warp principles. All those planets out there, there has to be life, no doubt.
    The medical technology from both Star Trek or Star Wars would be nice too – can’t enjoy all these things if you die from what they would call “simple ailments.”

  5. Pedram

    My first thought was hoverboards, but since that was already taken, along with food replicators (goodbye world hunger) and the holodeck, I’ll have to go with X-Ray glasses. You know, for security purposes.

  6. Barsoom Bob

    Pedram, you can find those X-ray Specs advertised in the backs of old comic books. Along with Sea Monkeys, if you so desire. :-)

    Personally, the fabricators from Diamond Age would be pretty cool. Makes anything you want as long as you are hooked up to the “feed”. I would imput for a nice new 4K projector if that was really available.

    This one is getting closer. I was in Office Max and they have a counter top 3D printer will make out of plastic anything you want on a small scale, like 3″ by 3″.

    The Sensory Recorder from Brainstorm might be fun. I’m sure the adult entertainment industry would be on that in a heart beat.

  7. John W

    It’s simple. The Enterprise, and the most advanced version in the franchise…1701-E.

    The best thing about that? You get ALL the toys it comes with. Holodecks? Check. Transporters? Check. Replicators? Check. Seemingly miraculous medical tech? Check. Heck, punch in that slingshot maneuver, and you’ve got a viable time machine as well.

    And I’m fairly sure the computer could whip up plans for Hoverboards as well.

    • Pedram

      Yeah I think if they can build an Enterprise, then hoverboards would be no problem. And you could even ride it in Hill Valley in the holodeck.

      Not sure an entire spaceship would count as a gadge/hardware though.

  8. William Henley

    In case anyone is wondering, Tricorders now exist:

    http://www.tricorderproject.org/

    Star Trek is hands down where I want to take most of my tech from. Holodeck, for the reasons Shannon mentioned. Warp drive, because there are just some times I want to leave this planet. Transporters, because I love to travel but hate the process of flying / driving / train / boat / whatever. And food replicators, because I am single, its too much trouble to cook for just myself, and I get tired of frozen / canned foods and take out.

    Outside of the Star Trek universe, I want the nanobots from Red Dwarf. Just think, you won’t have to workout anymore, and it can bring people back from the dead!

    Also love the memory implant device from Total Recall and the dream-recording devices from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. To be able to record memories and dreams and share them with others…. I bet the porn industry would probably be the first to adopt that technology, though!

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