Movie Tech | The Stuff of Imagination or Perhaps Reality

By Joseph
  Published 28 Nov 2012
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By Joseph Mathai
Movies, especially science fiction ones, have always been the stuff of imagination but are they really? Now granted we can’t travel at the speed of light yet to distant galaxies; or have flying cars, but it has always been fascinating to see how movies - both and old and new - are pushing the boundaries between reality and fiction. I was seated a couple of days ago watching the new Total Recall and despite some disappointment with character development and the general plot, I couldn't help but marvel at the ultra realistic world that director Len Wiseman had created. So grab some popcorn as I count down some of my favourite movie tech moments and how they close they come to real word technology. 1. Is it really Recall? Like I mentioned earlier, Len Wiseman created a fantastic world bristling with futuristic technology, but my favourite has to be the touch screen fridge. Our protagonist Doug (Colin Farrell) comes home to find his wife has already gone to bed and goes to take out a cold beer from the fridge whose doors are one giant touch screen, with photos of him and his wife. Gone are the days when fridge magnets were used to pin up photos and calendars this is the future or more appropriately the present.
The fridge that may just outsmart us all
Screen capture Total Recall (2012)
The Samsung RF4289 refrigerator has a Wi-Fi enabled touch screen which comes with several apps. Yep I said a fridge that connects to the internet. Now one might wonder what why the need for a Wi-Fi enabled fridge but the applications are impressive from helping you plan out your grocery list, what to cook for dinner, and even dieting. Now that’s assuming you are not like me who has a perpetually empty fridge 360 days out of a year.
The Wi-fi Enabled Samsung RF4289 refrigerator.
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2. In a Galaxy Far far away... “Help me Obi wan you’re my only hope” perhaps one of the best lines from one of the best Sci-Fi movies. Even watching Star wars today it’s hard to believe that this movie was made in 1977. George Lucas was way ahead of his time when he dreamed up this epic adventure in a galaxy far far away. One my favourite scenes is when the adroid R2D2 projects a hologram of Princess Leia delivering a distress call to Obi Wan. At the time the technology seemed near impossible to replicate.
Help me Obi Wan you're my ony hope
Screen capture. 1997 Lucasfilm Ltd. Credit: 1997 Lucasfilm / Flickr / Courtesy Pikturz.
Current day applications for holograms though not widely in use due to high costs and elaborate setups are still being utilized to some extent. The Petronas Towers in Malaysia is using hologram technology as an instructional guide. Several performers such as Madonna and the Black Eyed Peas have also been able to use it in their performances. The potential for this technology especially in the video conferencing business is great. Imagine holding a face to face meeting with a client in another country using this technology. For now though it remains more for high end events and not just quite yet mainstream. 3. Iron Man Swag How many of us men especially want to be Tony Stark. Billionaire techy with a suit of armour, I mean the guy just screams wow factor. I have to say I loved the Avengers movie and am not ashamed to say I walked out of the cinema with a big grin on my face. It was technology galore fest with Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark bringing out his best toys. Something that really caught my eye was a scene on the heli-carrier where Tony seems to be testing the limits of Bruce Banner (Hulk). Tony Stark is working on the heads up display and he transfers files from one computer to another simply by moving his hand over the screen.
Flash stick, bluetooth? No watch this
Screen capture Marvel's The Avengers (2012)
Wow!! Using motion to transfer files how cool is that? Well Bump Technologies has an app that allows both iPhone and Android allows users to literally “bump” there phones together in order transfer contact information, photos and other information in seconds. Galaxy Note II has the S-beam feature that allows users to instantly transfer data by tapping two compatible Samsung devices together. So in turns out Tony Stark’s technology is not that far ahead, now if only someone could develop a self sustaining clean energy source.
Bump it...
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4. Live like Bond I don’t think any movie gadgets countdown would be complete without the master of all gadgets, the super spy with a licence to kill. Yep am talking about Bond. James Bond. Now over the years Bond has had quite an interesting array of gadgets/weapons: X-ray glasses, dagger in the shoe, the invisible Aston Martin among others. The gadgets may have become fewer and less flamboyant in the Daniel Craig era and I have to say I miss some of them. However one particular gadget caught my eye and no it’s not the Odd Job’s Bowler hat from Gold Finger. I doubt there is any real world application for that apart from dispensing people.The gadget I had in mind is the Sony Ericsson K800 from Casino Royale, on the surface a normal phone. But this being a James Bond nothing is at it seems and this particular Sony-Ericsson K800 had an injectable sensor that monitored his vital signs and beamed them back to MI6. It saved him an untimely death after being poisoned by Le Chiffre, indeed that last hand nearly killed him.
The names Bond James Bond
Screen capture Casino Royale (2006)
Enough James Bond trivia, so a phone that can monitor your health seemed a bit futuristic in 2006 when the movie was released but today with the increase in the number of smart phones use globally this has become much simpler. Locally iAFYA offers a mobile application that can almost be described as your own personal doctor. The app features a comprehensive medical database that helps you look up everything from simple first aid to complex medical conditions. Globally there has been a rise of several apps that monitor different elements of health everything from monitoring your weight, tracking your blood pressure and for the ladies calculating your due date even calculating your baby’s astrological sign. Yep it seems like soon Q should simply start shopping online for Bond’s gadgets.  
Broken leg or simply a splinter iAfya can help
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5. Tupac is Back? How impressive was this year’s performance where rap legend Tupac took to the stage and performed alongside Snoop Dog and Dr Dre. The internet was abuzz with the words hologram being thrown around and the video making rounds on YouTube, admittedly it was amazing from how realistic the image looked to the movements. But as it was later revealed it actually was not a hologram. The performance was actually based on an old reflection technique called Pepper’s Ghost. Tupac’s CGI image was being projected on transparent screens which made it appear like he was actually floating.
I knew he was alive all this time
Image Courtesy of Chris polk Getty Images
Transparent screens have been used to portray futuristic worlds in some the best sci-fi movies like Avatar, Children of Men and even the Avengers. Anotherhistorical TV moment was of theseemingly impossibleduet of Celine Dion and Elvis Presleyduring American Idol (2007). So how close are we to seeing this technology in the market. Well Samsung has for the last year been hyping there AMOLED screens. They are transparent plastic screens that are light and flexible enough to bend and fold. Despite a few production delays we may perhaps see an introduction these screens mid next and a few more years before the technology becomes more wide spread. Personally am curious to see which other gone but not forgotten superstars will take to the stage.
Tech truly meets sheek
Image courtesy of
Samsung Amoled Display Concept  
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