Sci-non-fi; Proof we are living in the future

The future is here. We live in a time of immense privilege, the world being a global oyster waiting to be downloaded and interfaced, the only constraints on our ability to create are the limits of our imaginations. And yet I, like many people of my generation, am still waiting for my hover-board. Or am I…

That’s the thing though; we are living in the future. Things that only a few years ago seemed like the stuff of science fiction are already here! It is an incredible time to be alive. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget this. For those needing a gentle reminder, here’s the Itchy Quill run down of things to make your mind go boom!

Driverless Cars

Google, take a bow. Those of us that remember Logan’s Run or Total Recall have been longing for the day when we would be able to sit back as passengers while a robot took the reigns of our vehicle. Now, that time is here! Though some argue that it will lead to the bankruptcy of many personal injury lawyers (and we wouldn’t want that, would we!), or that it will further the problem we have with obesity and laziness, the obvious upsides are safer roads. In the US alone it is estimated that traffic accidents cost approximately $871 billion a year! That’s almost enough for three missions to Mars!

"Wow, your robot driver looks so real" "Dude, that's my mum!"

“Wow, your robot driver looks so real”
“Dude, that’s my mum!”

 We can rebuild him. We have the technology

Prosthetic limbs have long been inadequate for the use they are designed for. Replicating the flexibility, control and function of a human limb can be ridiculously complex, as Mother Nature is the greatest of all hardware designers. That said, humankind is making humongous strides towards catching up, and recent advances have led to some very realistic and functional products. As an industry currently worth around $24 billion, it is a growing sector that we might say is worth an investment. And as we all know, the more people buy the technology, the cheaper it becomes. With prices high for now, there is an alternative…

"Kinda missing the point of bionic technology if we don't make it... better

“Kinda missing the point of bionic technology if we don’t make it… better”

3D Printing

It’s not just prosthetics and guns; the possibilities of 3D printing are essentially endless. NASA has already managed to successfully send the schematics for a ratchet wrench to the ISS. This, as you can imagine, has opened the door for some serious possibilities in the future.

"Still working out the kinks"

“Still working out the kinks though”

Universal Translation

A lot has been made of the shortcomings of some of these apps, but a particular stand-out would be Word Lens. Arriving in 2010 from a group called Quest Digital, it has since been bought by Google and was recently featured as a flagship app in the iPhone advert ‘Powerful’. This isn’t surprising, as Google Translate is one of the most popular language translation apps on the internet. Google have made no secret of wanting to be accessible to people in all languages. This is essentially the next step of that.

PS - cannot read minds... yet

PS – cannot read minds… yet

Hogwartly Muggled

I have to say, the Potter-mania that has swept the world over the last decade is something I have managed to avoid. That said, there were certain parts of the movies that left my imagination in shivers and fits. One such moment was the moving adverts and the moving photographs. You can imagine my absolute fear and awe at the sight of such a thing in a Stockholm underground station! To the eggheads, it is known as ‘reactive advertising’, an example of phy-gital marketing. This is a movement based on utilising digital technologies and having them interact with the physical space. Physical + Digital = phygital. Easy!  Nobody knows who invented it, but it is a trademark of Momentum Worldwide, and they have linked it to many new trends in advertising from QR codes to Augmented Reality. And don’t forget; Amazon, Google, Yahoo – they are all tracking your movements on the internet to make sure they target their marketing specifically to your tastes too. Yikes!

So you can track me even when I'm in private browsing...

So you can track me even when I’m in private browsing…

Touchy Subject

This reminds me of the recent film The Interview. In it **Spoiler Alert** the main character finds out that a shop he thought was full of food is actually just a façade, full of images and pictures but no actual food. This is just like that, apart from the fact it’s in South Korea (not North) and that the shop is full of food… kinda.

The world’s first virtual reality shop is officially open! All the surfaces are actually touch screens, and everything you press will be waiting for you at the checkout. Who knows if this will catch on, or even if it is financially viable on a bigger scale. But for now, it’s another sign we are in the digital future.

"Oh right, so this is like 'analogue touchscreen?'"

“Oh right, so this is like ‘analogue touchscreen?'”


Hollow Man scared the absolute boohoos out of me when I was a child, and I never could figure out how Wonder Woman never lost her invisible plane. Either way, both the ridiculous and the downright terrifying are now one step closer. Thanks to the folks at Crazy Aaron, you can now hold invisibility in the palm of your hand! That is, you can hold a transparent goo in the palm of your hand… Ok, so we are still a few years away from invisible murderers, but the end is nigh! As for invisible transportation, that’s closer than you think too. Here is just one example from Land Rover, but there are many more in the prototype stage at other companies.

Night... Mare!!!

Night… Mare!!!

Liquid Proof Spray

Some of us love the rain, it’s mystical majesty a comfort. So comforting, in fact, that there is a whole industry of music professionals who record and release CDs full of the sounds of the sky. Nobody, however, enjoys the feeling of being soaked through from head to toe. With that chilling, heavy shiver, your clothes like weights around your neck, your feet numb as breeze blocks, you shuffle like a penguin and ponder your luck, cursing the heavens.

Fear not though world, science (and the future) to the rescue! Currently in production are a number of liquid resistant sprays; chemicals that reject liquid and disrupt them entering and therefore soaking your jacket or shirt. It can stop anything from vinegar to mustard – even chocolate sauce! Check this video for a demonstration. Nifty, huh?

Obviously, there will be some sacrifices...

Obviously, there will be some sacrifices…

The scale of it all

Most of all though, lets not forget the scale of everything. The first computers were as big as rooms, but a computer with the same memory as that, nowadays, “would today take up the same space as the full stop at the end of this sentence” according to Charles Arthur, The Independent,  20 years ago! Now you can fit half a terabyte in your pocket and have a computer on your watch. This is literally bananas. Microchips can only get so small though, as many companies struggle to combat the problem that all those extra heat producing chips can create for a laptop. Still, don’t forget that you can now fit books, a camera, an internet browser, a film camera, a TV and many other things on your phone; something thought impossible only a decade ago!

Esther, cancel my 12 o'clock. There's a cat in the garden and I need to get some crying done

Esther, cancel my 12 o’clock. There’s a cat in the garden and I need to get some crying done

All of this aside, we really are living at the peak of invention. We look back through history, and many great civilisations jump out as ahead of their time; The Ancient Greeks, The Romans, Ancient Egypt, Persia, Ancient China, The Babylons… just to name a few! Where we will rank among the great civilisations of history is anyone’s guess. But for now, we can at least feel wonder at knowing we are living on the precipice.

I know I have missed many remarkable things about the current world. What jumps out at you as being conspicuous with it’s absence? As always, your comments are appreciated!

The fact remains that even with all these gadgets and breakthroughs, we still know so little about our oceans and the solar system around us. We are also still facing potential problems in our future like global warming, a vast animal extinction, and a lack of resources. We are a flexible species, so how will we react to this changing planet?

The future as we know it is ours to mould; what do you want to see next?

"The future's in your hands buddy!"

“The future’s in your hands buddy!”

Special thanks to sattva, Serge Bertasius Photography, Somkiat Fakmee, stockimages, taoty, Witthaya Phonsawat, Vestorolie and adamr @ for use of their photos in this blog.

© Itchy Quill and, 2015