From science fic­tion to re­al­ity

Daily Trust - - IT WORLD -

For many adults around the world who were born in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, grow­ing up was in­deed fun as it con­jures a lot of mem­o­ries. The era was fa­mous for the ad­vent and in­flux of science fic­tion books and movies on the global en­ter­tain­ment land­scape; this genre of fic­tion also re­ferred in some quar­ters as SciFi or SF of­ten tells sto­ries about science and tech­nol­ogy of the fu­ture. With a plot that cre­ates sit­u­a­tions dif­fer­ent from those of both the present day and the known past and in a great way dom­i­nated pop cul­ture of the time ne­ces­si­tat­ing the view­ing au­di­ence to seek to own the amaz­ing gad­gets and tech­nolo­gies ex­hib­ited in the mo­tion pic­tures and lit­er­a­tures.

In Nige­ria science fic­tion TV mini-se­ries like Doc­tor Who, Star Trek, Galac­tica 1980 and Ter­ra­hawks dom­i­nated the TV screens dur­ing this pe­riod; also, in the ‘90s X-Files, Star­gate-1 joined the grow­ing ranks of minis­eries that were keep­ing view­ers glued to their small screens.

A high­point of these imag­i­nary tales is the rate at which most of the gad­gets and tech­nolo­gies that were used in them have made their way to be­com­ing present re­al­i­ties and ev­ery­day gad­gets and techs. A no­table few are flat screen TVs, in­stant mes­sag­ing, 3D print­ers, iPad/tablets, Google glasses, ATM and credit cards, Blue­tooth de­vices, video calls and video cams.

Fritz Lang’s 1927 clas­sic Me­trop­o­lis is widely con­sid­ered the first science fic­tion movie, and the silent film from WeimarGer­many helped give rise to a uniquely mod­ern genre. The abil­ity of science fic­tion to al­le­go­rize present day prob­lems, com­bined with the in­clu­sion of fan­tas­tic tech­nol­ogy has made the genre in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar and one needn’t look far to see the im­pact that science fic­tion sto­ries have had on so­ci­ety.

Hu­mans have al­ways en­joyed dwelling on the fu­ture and most re­main op­ti­mistic that ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy will usher in a new golden age. Un­for­tu­nately, this Earthly utopia al­ways seems to re­main just a few years ahead of us.

An­a­lyz­ing past pre­dic­tions of fu­ture sci­en­tific ad­vances as well as ex­am­in­ing the per­for­mance of tech com­pa­nies in ful­fill­ing these mod­ern prophe­cies, it is ap­par­ent that they have con­trib­uted im­mensely to bring­ing hu­man­ity their fan­tasies. One of these lead­ing tech com­pa­nies is LG Elec­tron­ics with its rich plethora of fu­ture-look­ing, sweep­ing, propul­sive and en­ter­pris­ing prod­ucts.

On a closer look, one will find that the tech­nol­ogy we en­joy to­day of­ten sur­passes even the most fan­tas­tic pre­dic­tions of science fic­tion in the past. While we may lack in­ter­stel­lar travel and house­hold robots, ad­vances in smart tech­nol­ogy and the grow­ing preva­lence of IoT de­vices has given us a 2015 that past writ­ers and film­mak­ers would never have thought pos­si­ble. Be­sides, at the rate we are mov­ing, home-grown clones and va­ca­tions on Mars re­ally don’t seem that far off.

Per­haps more than in any other in­dus­try, tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies can­not af­ford to rest on their lau­rels. Firms are ex­pected to con­stantly push the bound­aries of tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion in or­der to stay a step ahead of their com­pe­ti­tion. De­spite the suc­cess that pre­vi­ous prod­ucts may have en­joyed, con­sumers are con­stantly ask­ing, “Well what have you done for me lately?”

Though there is cer­tainly a niche mar­ket for retro tech­nol­ogy, the vast ma­jor­ity of con­sumers make pur­chases based on how de­vices stack up against one another and are will­ing to switch brands if nec­es­sary. Ap­ple is widely re­garded as the tech­nol­ogy com­pany with the most loyal user base, but stud­ies have shown that even its de­voted con­sumers were more than will­ing to drop the iPhone as more and more de­vices emerged that were ca­pa­ble of per­form­ing at or above the level of Ap­ple’s iconic smart­phone. Con­sumers are con­stantly look­ing for the next big thing, and it will be im­por­tant for LG to con­tinue its heavy in­vest­ment in re­search and de­vel­op­ment in or­der for the com­pany to con­tinue re­leas­ing com­pet­i­tive prod­ucts. Firms are re­warded for in­no­va­tion, not im­i­ta­tion. If LG hopes to re­main one of the top elec­tron­ics com­pa­nies in the world, it will have to re­tain its cur­rent con­sumers and cre­ate dy­namic prod­ucts that are ca­pa­ble of win­ning over ri­val cus­tomers.

While the tech­nol­ogy that we see in science fic­tion movies may seem too far­fetched for re­al­ity, but this deck will go on to show that the same things were once said about tech­nol­ogy that un­der­pins our lives to­day. As fan­tas­tic as it may seem at times, science fic­tion can be an amaz­ing re­source for engi­neers look­ing for “the next big thing”. Con­trary to the pre­dic­tions of au­thor Isaac Asimov, the big­gest change to life in the 21st cen­tury has been the in­ven­tion and rapid adop­tion of smart­phones and tablets. Pre­dicted by famed in­ven­tor Nikola Tesla as far back as 1926, smart­phones and tablets have rev­o­lu­tion­ized the way that we con­sume media, com­mu­ni­cate and even think.

The iPhone kicked the dig­i­tal era into high gear when it was first re­leased in 2007. The fol­low­ing years saw con­stituent smart­phone tech­nol­ogy grow by leaps and bounds, with the de­vices im­prov­ing dra­mat­i­cally in a short pe­riod of time. Cou­pled with the in­creased ca­pa­bil­i­ties of smart­phones, their rapidly drop­ping price led to sales of over 1.2 bil­lion units in 2014 alone, up 28% over 2013. The ex­pand­ing reach of smart­phones is help­ing in­crease global con­nec­tiv­ity and cre­at­ing more value for the app mar­ket, open­ing up new rev­enue streams. These apps have also made smart­phones into the cen­ter of our lives.

The smart­phones and tablets that we have to­day are far more ca­pa­ble than the de­vices that we see por­trayed even in movies set in the far dis­tant fu­ture. De­vices from movies tended to only be used for read­ing or watch­ing video. While these are im­por­tant func­tions of mod­ern smart de­vices, the tech­nol­ogy that we have to­day far out­strips what even the most wide-eyed op­ti­mist could have pre­dicted just 20 years ago. The fu­ture still looks in­cred­i­bly bright for smart­phones and tablets. (sil­ver­bul­let)

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