Star Wars was definitely ahead of its time and that had nothing to do with their subject matter alone. At a time —when space exploration was the hot topic of the day— George Lucas saw the vehicle through which all the concerns that troubled humanity at that time could be expressed.
The galaxy far away from ours was the tree, but the political, cultural and technological content of “Star Wars” was the forest, showing us clues to the future to come. The human species did not have to travel in space to use some of the technology in Luke Skywalker’s hands.
Robots are at the core of science fiction from the first writing samples of the kind. The word itself comes from such a story and these metal constructions —which existed only in the realm of the imaginary— exist today and do not only look like “R2-D2”.
The era of replacing people on the battlefield is very close. Drones are already gaining a respectable edge in airspace surveillance, even with the use of fire. However, there are similar developments on land: The need to defuse explosive devices has led to the evacuation of people from the danger zone and the assistance of robots undertaking to cut the right cable. At the same time, the US military has begun using robotic dogs to guard camps that look like they came from an episode of “Black Mirror”.
When the Empire used a hovering train, magnetic hovering was not exactly science fiction. The idea of a train that manages not to touch the rails and, at the same time, to move on them —using superconductors and electric/magnetic field— is even older than the first “Star Wars”. However, the use of magnetic hovering until then, on such a large scale, was mainly experimental and involved low speeds.
Today the “Transrapid” system is a reality in Shanghai and other cities. It is not only a hovering train, but —with a speed of 431 km/h— it is the fastest train at the moment. In a few years, the rails and wheels will give way to magnetic hovering constructions making the fixed track means even faster and more comfortable.
In 1977 the most technologically advanced way to send a message was by fax, but Princess Leia chose to send her hologram to Obi-Wan Kenobi. The problems in the reproduction of the message by “R2-D2” and the low resolution of the hologram did not make the script idea any less impressive.
Holograms today may not be very common, but they do exist with the use of multiple cameras and digital imaging. Real-time video calling is a common place for everyone and somehow we live in an age that is more technologically advanced than a science fiction script.
Augmented reality games
In one scene, Chewbacca is playing chess with the “C-3PO” with the pieces looking like three-dimensional holograms in space. For a few years now anyone with a simple smartphone can chase “Pokémon” holograms.
This is just a small sample of the possibilities that the marriage of virtual reality with reality opens. In a very short time, “Metaverse” together with the use of “VR” glasses will make the boundaries between fantasy and reality even more blurred.
In an earlier version, Luke Skywalker loses his hand to Darth Vader’s lightsaber. Then a robot doctor offers him his perfection again by making a robot-human hybrid. First of all, it is worth mentioning that robotic surgery is a reality and in the near future many surgeries can be performed remotely, with doctors operating directing robotic surgeries.
But bionic limbs have escaped the experimental stage and have managed to give people the ability to walk and hold things again. Through electrical pulses transmitted from the existing part of the hand to the artificial one, the nerves have been replaced with wires that convert the stimuli into motion. Even more impressive is that the fingers of these bionic hands can be equipped with microsensors that can even transmit the sense of touch and temperature of objects they touch.
Luke Skywalker’s “X-Wing” fighter was equipped with a “HUD” system, the help of which he did not want in the final battle of “Episode VI”. The idea of a system that will display all the necessary navigation information in a way that does not require distraction from the field view of the course, predates “Star Wars”, but —as in the case of Luke Skywalker— it took years for it to be widely used.
Today, “Head-Up Display” is the norm in all fighter jets, in many civilian aircrafts, and now even in cars. Initially in luxury and sports cars, but now it is also available in simpler mass-produced cars.
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