I am vey much a sci-fi and tech geek. I am a gadget guy and many of the TV shows that I follow are found on the SyFy channel. I love to have the new toys (though I usually wait for the second generation of new devices) and I do try to find a use for them in my life.
Recently I dug up an old Sci-Fi show that competed with the likes of StarTrek:TNG for three-and-a-half seasons. It was a show that many criticized, though I watched it religiously when it originally aired. What show you ask. SeaQuest DSV. Set in the “near future” which happens to be only a few years from now. I thought that it had more potential originally, and I think that the concept could still be viable today, but there is probably a reason that I don’t make such decisions.
What I did notice while re-watching the show is how they predicted technology. It has been a recurring theme recently that many tech blogs have talked about, how sci-fi shows may actually drive the R&D on some of the pieces of technology that we use today. Looking at SeaQuest, one of the things that stood out was from an episode where they visited one of the main communications network hub. They talked about the great potential that fiber-optic networking had. Fast forward to today and we now have companies that are bringing fiber right into our homes. We are now piping huge amounts of data including HDTV, high speed internet, and voice communications into homes over tiny pieces of fiber optic cable and we are far from the bandwidth limits.
Watching SeaQuest today, though I don’t know much about submarines, much of the technology is believable. All over the ship you see large, wide-screen displays which, at the time were probably created using a rear-projection technique. Yet today it is commonplace to see large flat panel video displays. Much of what they use on the show doesn’t seem like it is far out of reach from where we are today.
Then look at the birth of the tactile tablet computer like Apple’s iPad. I know that I have seen this mentioned on some tech blogs, but it is basically a working version of the PADDs (Personal Access Display Device) used on StarTrek:TNG. All thing considered, iOS might almost be a little more sophisticated than anything we actually saw LCARS (Library Computer Access/Retrieval System) do aside from fly starships (though I am sure there is an app for that!). The groundwork is being laid though and we may meet or surpass some of the technology like that imagined for shows like StarTrek:TNG and SeaQuest DSV.
The here and now is certainly an interesting time to be living in given the current rate that technology is progressing. While we may not quite be at a place where we can just slide data from device to device like in Minority Report or Avatar, but we are getting there. With apps like “Bump” you can literally bump two iPhones together to send information between them. It isn’t quite perfect, but it works. Do we need the level of connectivity we are headed towards? Who knows, but the ride is pretty cool.