Old sci-fi movies are full of technology that seemed impossible at the time. Here are six examples of today’s tech that were first introduced in sci-fi movies/tv shows:

Sci-Fi Tech 1: Self-Driving Cars

First introduced in: 1980s tv show: “Knight Rider” (with car named Kitt)

Now available as: Tesla Model 3 was probably the first and loudest, but a handful of other manufacturers now offer self-driving cars as well

How it’s similar: Car can drive itself in certain situations

How it’s different:

  • Kitt is fully self-driving (and depicted as being able to operate autonomously), while Teslas still need a driver to be present and attentive.
  • Kitt has advanced weaponry and neat gadgets; Tesla’s neatest gadget is the ability to make it sound like anyone in the car is farting.
  • Kitt is able to communicate with its driver at anytime and access vast amounts of information. Teslas have a touch screen and can respond to some verbal commands, but not at the same level.


Sci-Fi Tech 2: Video Calling

First introduced in: 1960s tv show “Star Trek”

Now available as: FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom or a myriad of other phone/web apps

How it’s similar: Seems to work fairly similarly

How it’s different: Though today’s video calling works pretty much as you would expect, we do not yet have an easy way to call via something like Star Trek’s Holodeck (or hologram technology)


Sci-Fi Tech 3: Tablet Computers

First introduced in: 1968 movie: “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Now available as: Apple IPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Microsoft Surface, among others

How it’s similar: Is shown briefly in the movie, but seems to operate very similarly. The main character watches the news on his tablet.

How it’s different: In one scene, the tablet communicates with an interviewer in a way that seems completely AI enabled. This technology is not yet readily available to the general public.


Sci-Fi Tech 4: Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

First introduced in: 1962 episode of “The Jetsons”

Now available as: iRobot among many others

How it’s similar: The Jetson’s robotic vacuum is only shown briefly. But it seems to operate similarly.

How it’s different: The Jetson’s vacuum stores itself in a panel in the wall and can be operated by a button on a screen on the wall. Today’s robotic vacuums likely could operate in that way, but they generally don’t.


Sci-Fi Tech 5: Hoverboards

First introduced in: 1989 “Back to the Future Part II”

Now available as: Hendo Hoverboard. There are many other available transportation devices that call themselves hoverboards, but the only one that truly “hovers” above the ground is the Hendo, and it is only available via Kickstarter right now.

How it’s similar: It actually seems to operate very similarly.

How it’s different: There aren’t a lot of details available about the Hendo Hoverboard, so it’s hard to say. Will it be able to go over water, like Michael J. Fox’s could?


Sci-Fi Tech 6: Universal Translator

First introduced in: The Universal Translator was used by Ensign Hoshi Sato, the communications officer on the Enterprise in “Star Trek: Enterprise”

Now available as: The Translate app, which Apple added in iOS 14. Of course, there are many other translating apps available. And many hearable translation objects are currently in the works.

How it’s similar: It can translate phrases into several languages.

How it’s different: Well, at this point, it’s still pretty different. The Translate app only translates into 11 languages, so it isn’t truly a “universal” translator. And none of the available languages are alien ones.


Sci-fi gave us many predictions about the future – both good and bad! Though process automation isn’t as sexy as a board that hovers above the ground, it’s arguably one of the technologies that will most change how we do business in the future. Business News Daily named automation as one of 11 “Small Business Tech Tends of 2023” and quoted Forrester as saying that data-driven automation will continue to be red-hot throughout 2023. If you’re ready to start thinking about bringing the future to your business, sign up here for a free consultation.