How Movies Influence the Future

We have already seen the future in movies of the past. So much of our technology has been inspired by pop culture and the media. Now, that’s not to say that technology doesn’t inspire movies as well, because it most certainly does. Movies can take existing technology and expand upon it. That’s the part that I want to focus on. How movies expand on technology, and then how technology follows behind and makes it a reality.

One of the first things that comes to mind is Minority Report. During production, the film makers went to actual scientists and had them predict what the future would be like. The scientists treated it like an R and D project and came up with the interface that is seen in the movie. Since then, Minority Report technology has started to emerge as real. One prime example is the XBox Kinect. It uses voice and hand motions to control the console. Another technology is Thalmic Lab’s Myo armband, which takes electrical impulses from your muscles and turns them into commands for your electronics. Here is a video from a TED talk about some of the technology in Minority Report. It starts to get good at the 5:30 minute mark.

Marty McFly’s shoes. Photo from

A big push is being made to turn the Back to the Future movie series into reality. Specifically their big predictions for 2015. Self-tying shoes, hover boards, and the Cubs winning the world series. The way things are going right now, we may get all of them. Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield has been working on the self-tying laces for some time. Nike released a pair of shoes that resembled the shoes from the movie that didn’t have the magic laces, but during an interview, Tinker assured us that we would have the self-tying shoes by the predicted year of 2015.

There has also been an increase in hover boards. I’m not sure how practical and safe they really are, but they’re out there, and there’s still time to improve and innovate. And then of course, the Cubs. I have some very high hopes for this. The Cubs have a huge arsenal of young talent, arguably the best farm system in major league baseball, and just hired the best manager in baseball. I’m pretty sure this isn’t influenced by Back to the Future, but regardless, it’s another thing that a movie has predicted. But it’s not technology so it’s a bit off topic I suppose.

A lot of technology was inspired by the cult television show, Star Trek. Sliding doors, touch screens, communicators, and teleportation were all staples of the series and are now prevalent in our world today. Sliding doors are almost everywhere, and they’re still being improved upon. Touch screens are now used on almost all devices that we use. And it’s hard to deny that media influences technology when a commercial straight up references the sci-fi technology that it’s based off of.

Teleportation is a real thing now. Not quite to the extent of Star Trek, but it’s real. There’s this thing called quantum entanglement, where two particles are connected. This connection can happen over infinite distances and the particles can send each other information instantly. So if the spin of one particle changes, the spin of the other particle millions of light years away will also change. It’s unclear how it works, but it could be used for object transportation in addition to information. Something could be scanned at one end, the information gets sent through the quantum entanglement, and then the object is reassembled on the other side. It’d be quite the accomplishment if we could do that.

Now I’m not saying that all new technology is influenced by the media. I’m just making the argument that it can have a big influence on how and what scientists and innovators are focusing on. Movie makers dream it up, and scientists make it a reality. It’s how it’s been happening and it’s how it will continue to happen. You want to see the future? Go watch a sci-fi movie. Chances are there will be something in there that will be made a reality.

Share your thoughts