The Technology Of Science Fiction Is Here Now

Iron Man In Real Life

In the Terminator franchise, Cyberdyne is the Sunnyvale, CA company that ends up creating Skynet.  In Japan, a company was started in 2004 using the name Cyberdyne.  At first I was suspicious until I found an MSN Tech Gadgets and CNET article talking about Cyberdyne's product called HAL.

HAL stands for Hybrid Assistive Limb.  It is an exoskeleton that can help elderly folk get around and is a commercially available product from Cyberdyne.  This exoskeleton is one of the closest things I've seen to a real life Iron Man that looks halfway decent.  It helps people walk and has the ability to make it so people can lift more than they are normally capable of.  Check it out:

Pretty cool.  Is there a boot-jet option on HAL?

What Is Coming?

One example of what is coming around the corner is some work that Honda Research Institute Japan Co., Ltd. is doing. Together with Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International and Shimadzu Corporation, they have put together the first ever Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology that uses EEG and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) along with newly developed information extraction technology to enable control of a robot by human thought alone.

It's surprising to me how much is coming out of Honda.  Up until now, I thought Honda made cars that lasted longer than time.  It's impressive.

Wrapping This Up

Do I even want to go near the "science" of Star Trek?

Right now we think that we cannot exceed the speed of light because of physics.  Or is that the physics we're only aware of?  We have lasers that I'm sure will become something like phasers, and we've seen how well transporter technology can go if not done right, IE: The Fly.

I could go on and on with this article and maybe I'll delve into Star Trek another day.

As it is, I've only grazed the surface of what's out there.  I can't count how many sites and bits I've left out of this article.  It's astounding.  From tiny robots that work together to airplanes whose computers modify their wing surfaces to counter air turbulence and hovercrafts.  Heck, my company is building machines that can climb any type surfaced walls exactly like Spider-Man - it's crazy what's out there, and that's just in the public sector that we know about.

I specified the public sector.  We can only imagine what research projects the government has going on now that we don't know about.  And I don't mean the noise that people think they know.

An example of what could be is the F-117 Stealth Fighter went public in 1988.  I was part of one of the many contracted developers that worked on that baby. Its first "successful" flight was in 1981 and the research for that accomplishment started in 1964 and then realized in the mid-70's due to the advancement of computer developments. The SR-71 went into service in 1966, after the technology started being refined in the 50's.

Looking at these numbers, I bet some of you have to be wondering just what is in the pipe to go public 20 years from now.  It's crazy, I'm sure.

Movies are a cool realization of what could be and we're lucky to be able to experience the decent special-effects that computer technology has made possible for us.

So, are we headed to a Matrix existence?  (Unless we're in it now.) And will the Terminator nightmare come to be?  It's an old story, but as science catches up to our science fantasies, it can't be helped but thought about.  I just hope you don't lose sleep worrying about it!

Sources:  Honda ASIMO, World Honda, DARPA Grand Challenge, Cyberdyne (The real one!), CNET, igargoyle exoskeleton reports

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