From films to the real world

A look at the technologies bringing the ideas you’ve seen in films to life.

Back to the Future II – Nike AirMags

Back in 2011, Nike took the internet by storm with their (extremely limited) release of an official version of the futuristic ‘Air Mag’ shoes seen in Back to the Future Part Two. However, with their production limited to 1,500 pairs and the lack of the fantastic ‘Power Laces’ seen in the film, they were merely a novelty. But this may be soon to change with rumours that Nike have been
developing real life ‘Power Laces’. A futuristic type of shoe fastening which automatically adjusts to fit your foot perfectly. Tinker Hatfield, the designer of a number of Nike’s Air Jordan shoes, was asked at a recent event in the US about the possibility of the revolutionary laces becoming a reality. His answer was next year, which is coincidentally the same year they were seen in the film.


Back to the Future II – Hoverboard

The dream of every child who grew up in the late 1980s has been realised. A working Hoverboard exists. First seen in Back to the Future Part 2, the real version works via a strong magnetic field, meaning for now it’s use would be limited to special metallic plated ‘Hoverboard parks’. Unfortunately, these Hoverboards won’t be hitting the mainstream anytime soon, the only way of getting one is by pledging $10,000 towards the project.

The board’s creators have stated that the board was designed to be taken apart and experimented with, as a simple way of demonstrating it’s core revolutionary technology, something they call “Magnetic Field Architecture”. This, in simple terms allows two focussed magnetic fields to be held in stable equilibrium, something previously thought to be impossible, allowing a constant ‘hover level’. If you don’t have $10,000, Hendo (the board’s manufacturer) aims to produce a commercial version of the Hoverboard by October 2015.


The Jetsons – Flying car

The ideal of 1950s futurism, and countless science fiction series, the Flying Car exists. After decades of attempts by numerous companies, with a history involving crashes, injuries and broken dreams, the flying car is a concept which has come with a price. However, Slovakian company, ‘Aeromobil’ claim to have perfected their prototype, which is nearly market ready can already cover up to 430 miles by air or 540 miles by land per tank of gas. The company claim that their car/aeroplane hybrid will “change personal transport on a global scale.” The car uses existing aeronautic technologies, relying on wings to soar through the skies, with an engine propelling it at an adequate 125MPH and a top speed of 100MPH on land, although Aeromobil claim they will be able to increase these speeds in future iterations of the car. The future really is here.


Doctor Who – Sonic Screwdriver

British engineers have been working on a prototype ‘Sonic Screwdriver’ style device which they call ‘Sonotweezers’. These use ultrasonic waves to move and manipulate particular cells, and the invention could become an invaluable medical tool with the concept of being able to move and repair damaged nerves in the future. Like the famous device in Doctor Who, when the technology is further advanced, it could potentially be used to turn screws without physical contact.

The concept works by essentially creating a miniature tornado through manipulating air particles with ultrasonic waves in a twisting motion. This would theoretically then be able to slowly turn whatever the device is aimed at. Unlike in the TV show, the real life sonic screwdriver would be far more interesting in it’s possible medical applications, and not so much for opening doors and fighting off Aliens. The Sonotweezers are a technology well worth getting excited about.


Andrew Dodson

Images: Wonderful Engineering, Sickchirpse, Hendo Hover, Wired, flickr

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