Star Wars is a captivating tale for many, and with any huge fan base comes the united wish that the universe was real place we could all go and live. We may not have the Force, and we may not have made first contact yet, but we’re getting very close to a few other things George Lucas wrote about so long, long ago. The biggest aspect of any sci-fi story is technology. If you look at Star Wars tech, some of it can be found in our world today, if not in the near future.
Holograms are within arm’s length. Virtual reality is close to being perfected, and projectors are already widely available. The LG eXpo is a smartphone with a projector that was released in December of 2009. If these technologies were combined, and there was a way to make virtual reality portable, it would be easy to set up a way to project your own form to a friend or family member in another country.
Laser weapons are actively being researched by the U.S. Army’s Advanced Energy Armaments Systems Division and Stellar Photonics. The Airborne Laser is a 747 modified to emit a continuous-beam. Several companies are working on portable laser weapons for the U.S. Army. The PEP (pulsed energy projectile) is nearly finished, and may replace the stun gun within the next few years. Granted the PEP is more like a plasma pistol from Halo, but they’re getting there!
Robots are becoming more and more common in our time. Japan recently started testing the use of robots to aid the elderly in nursing homes. ASIMO is a humanoid robot developed by Honda that can recognize faces, sounds, moving objects, postures, gestures, and environments. The care-providing robot FRIEND is a semi-autonomous robot designed to support people who suffer from muscle diseases, strokes, or paralysis. It is also used by elderly people. The FRIEND is designed to aid these people in daily activities, such as cooking or even working, so that they can do these things on their own. Next I’m sure we’ll see 20 foot tall four-legged robots walking through the streets!
A company called HoverTech offers an e-book that contains a concept and directions for building your won hoverboard. They are also actively researching a whole list of hover technologies, from hydrostatic to magnetic. ACVs (air-cushoined vehicles) are already fairly common, using a “skirt” to contain high pressured air below the vehicle, making it easy to travel on land and on water. A company called Moller developed the M200G, which will sell for around $125k. It can hover 10 feet above the ground and travel at 50 miles per hour.
Scientists are making breakthroughs all the time, each discovery unlocking even more questions and research opportunities. As for things like hyperspace and giant spaceships, it seems we will have to wait a little longer. But be patient, Star Wars fans. The future is bright.