The future is now, but we’ve seen it before. Another International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, has wrapped in Las Vegas, and the major tech and electronic companies have shown off all the shiny new toys that are on our horizon. But when you look closer at the lineup of televisions, VR devices, drones and more, you start to get a sense that, like many of mankind's technological advances, they've already been envisioned by the world of science fiction. With that in mind, we present our look at the niftiest stuff from the show ... and where you might have seen it before.
The Mercedes Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion
While the name is unwieldy and lacks any kind of futuristic pizazz, the Luxury in Motion is a concept car that gives us nearly everything we want in a sci-fi-themed ride (short of flying). First off, it can drive itself -- and did so into the show -- and runs on hydrogen. And it is essentially a traveling living room with wooden flooring and rotating captain’s seats, and the white and reflective interior features touchscreens that also respond to gestures. The lighting is a cool soft blue and white, and the car even beams a crosswalk on the road ahead with an audio prompt to let pedestrians know it is safe to cross. The car won’t be on the streets in the near future, so get used to keeping those hands at 10 and 2, folks.
Where we’ve seen it in sci-fi: Aesthetically, this gorgeous cocoon on wheels could be the child of a marriage between the iRobot Audi RSQ and a Tron Light Cycle; operationally, it is an updated KITT Firebird from Knight Rider.
AscTec Firefly with Intel RealSense
There were a lot of drones on display at this year’s CES, but the Firefly from Ascending Technologies (AscTec, get it?) was the best. Using six depth cameras and Intel’s RealSense processing engine, the drone can dodge objects and move autonomously. The hexacopter is an amazing device that could significantly aid research in difficult scenarios.
Where we’ve seen it in sci-fi: You can’t think about drones without eventually thinking about the HK-Aerials from The Terminator. While the Firefly doesn’t have wing-mounted lasers, nor will they likely be human-killing machines, the smart device seems like something Cyberdyne might be cooking up.
LG 77-inch 4K Flexible OLED
It isn’t available yet, but this big boy is on its way soon -- and hopefully will be cheaper when it does. The LG concept on display at CES (shown here is the "floating" 65-inch model) would cost $20,000 if in stores today. But it is a beaut, with an OLED display and 4K resolution. Okay, that’s all well and good, but the best part is that it can go from flat to curved.
Where we’ve seen it in sci-fi: Star Trek: The Next Generation viewscreen. You won’t have to wait for the 24th century to say “on screen” from the comfort of your own home.
Netatmo Welcome Camera
Home security is another area that gets a lot of play at CES, but the Welcome from Netatmo stands out. Encased in anodized aluminum, the HD cam with 130 degree field of view and night vision uses facial recognition to notify you when the kids come home, the neighbor pops in to water the plant or an unknown face makes an appearance. It sends alerts to smartphones and allows users to livestream or save data locally. Once you have the camera, there are no fees or contracts to use it.
Where we’ve seen it in sci-fi: 1984. A great idea to keep track of the family, it is nevertheless vaguely reminiscent of Winston Smith’s own home security system.
These virtual-reality sabers come to life using barbell-like controllers, a headset and the Sixense STEM (Sixense Tracking Embedded Module) motion trackers. The STEM base station has an 8-foot radius and tracks the controllers, and you can attach a pack to the headset that allows you to walk around as you battle a training droid. The unfortunate part is that copyrights will likely prevent this from being released commercially anytime soon.
Where we’ve seen it in sci-fi: Don’t make us spell this one out. Of course we know it as the flashlight laser sword from Ringworld. Oh yeah, and Star Wars.
What sci-fi, year 3000 technological utopia products from CES 2015 set your gadget-loving imagination aflame? And what sci-fi technology do you think it's about time companies like Phillips, Sony and Samsung got around to bringing us? Let us know in the comments!