Who says The Simpsons are the only ones on the screen predicting the future? While the animated series is notorious for illustrating future events years before they happen, some overlooked films have actually made a few surprisingly real future predictions themselves.
Back To The Future Part II Thought Of Google Glass Before Google
The Back to the Future franchise has predicted many things for, well, the future. Alas, humanity has yet to see hoverboards or flying cars. But there is one piece of technology in the 1989 sequel Back to the Future Part II that didn’t just tease technological advancements in front of our faces.
In the film, Marty McFly is able to use a pair of glasses to answer a phone call. At the time, that sort of feat probably seemed so outlandish. Then, 2011 and Google happened. That year, Google created the world’s first pair of smart glasses, a piece of technology that allows, among many things, answering phone calls.
The Net Predicted Ordering Pizza Online
In the mid-90s, the concept of online identity theft was so out of left field that watching the 1995 film The Net was a bit of a shock. The film was a cautionary tale at the time, telling people that with the quickly advancing internet, data thieves were going to very much become a thing. They did.
But where there’s bad, there is a good; at least there is in this case. While The Net showed the harsh reality of data sharing, it also predicted the future of ordering pizza online. And for that, Sandra Bullock, we thank you.
Erasing Memories In Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
In the 2004 dramedy Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, the concept of erasing sad, tough, or troubling memories might seem a bit extreme, not to mention impossible. Well, Joel and Clementine would be pleased to learn that the process is no longer completely fiction.
In a 2017 study, the Columbia University Medical Center learned that “Different types of memories stored in the same neuron of the marine snail Aplysia can be selectively erased… The findings suggest that it may be possible to develop drugs to delete memories that trigger anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) without affecting other important memories of past events.” Talk about a crazy prediction!
Ad-Targeting In Minority Report
In 2002, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi film Minority Report gave viewers something they weren’t prepared for — customized audience ad-targeting. At the time of the film’s release, the concept was pretty far-fetched. Then Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook happened.
The film might have shown the future of advertisements in 2002, but it didn’t really get that far until the invention of Facebook in 2004. And, even so, target advertisements weren’t introduced on the platform until a few years later, in 2007. During the announcement, Zuckerberg said, “Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online.” Sorry, Mr. CEO, but the “new way” happened back in 2002.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Has A Nifty 3D Food Printer
Throughout the ’70s, Star Trek introduced fans to more than one futuristic gadget. One being something very similar to a Bluetooth headset, something that wasn’t on the market for commercial use until 1999. But that’s not even the most surprising thing Star Trek predicted.
In the 1979 movie Stark Trek: The Motion Picture, the Starship Enterprise crew has a handy little piece of technology called a replicator. Pretty much, the replicator creates food out of thin air. While the details obviously aren’t the same, the piece of technology is a very fancy 3D printer, a process that wasn’t invented until Chuck Hull in the 1980s.
Gigantic Digital Billboards Were In Blade Runner Before NYC
The 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner might have over-exaggerated the future of a 2019 Los Angeles — still waiting on the flying cars — but the movie did get one thing correct. In the movie, gigantic digital billboards are seen across the city. And while those don’t really seem that out of place, the first one wasn’t even installed until 2005.
Weirdly enough, Ridley Scott was ahead of the time in his dystopian vision of the world. While the film wasn’t even released until the early ’80s, Scott thought way ahead into the future, showcasing billboards and even digital video calls that weren’t yet invented.
Facial Transplant Technology Was Shown In Face/Off
Honestly, if anyone ever watched the uber-campy John Travolta and Nic Cage film Face/Off and said, “yes, facial transplants are so going to be a thing in a few years,” they would most likely have been called out. The thing is, they wouldn’t have been wrong.
Astonishingly, facial transplant technology has come a long way since the 1997 movie. In 2010, 30 Spanish doctors completed the first successful facial transplant. Since then, many more have gone through the procedure, and the technology is only getting more advanced with time.
Full-Body X-Ray Scanners In Airplane II: The Sequel
Many people are used to the litany of things that need to happen when walking through airport security: have your passport and boarding pass ready, take off your shoes, put everything through the x-ray, and walk through the full-body scanner. Well, that latter piece of technology wasn’t commonplace in airports until 2007.
None other than the 1982 sci-fi comedy Airplane II: The Sequel predicted the future of airport security. In one of the scenes, passengers are seen walking through what can only be described as a full-body x-ray machine. Of course, what security sees is a bit more risque than reality!
The Superman V. Batman Billboard In I Am Legend
The 2007 film I am Legend might have introduced movie-goers to more than one thing that didn’t exist in the world during the time of its release, such as killer zombies. But there is one thing, in particular, that is quite an impressive prediction. In a post-apocalyptic Times Square, a billboard can be seen with two very well-known symbols — a black bat and an S.
The billboard alludes to a Superman v. Batman film, something that wasn’t even set in motion until years after I am Legend release. The collaboration-frenemy film wasn’t announced until 2013 at the San Diego Comic-Con.
The AI And Concept Of Space Tourism In 2001: A Space Odyssey
Between smartphones, Alexa, and pretty much anything that has an “i” in front of it, people are pretty used to Siri-esk technology and video calls. The thing is that technology was nowhere near existence when the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey was released.
In the film, futuristic technology that we know as tablets are available on the space station. And that’s not even the craziest thing the space movie predicted. While Space Odyssey’s idea of space tourism isn’t a thing quite yet, humanity is definitely close if Elon Musk and SpaceX have anything to say about the future of space travel!
Military Drones Were “Predicted” In The Terminator
While realistic military drones might not have purple laser cannons, The Terminator sure knows how to make a prediction. But, when James Cameron is leading the charge, there is guaranteed to be plenty of imaginative scenes.
In this case, armed military drones weren’t a common piece of technology for countries to use in warfare. Though this technology has been used since the 19th century, it wasn’t until the United States took the final leap in drone advancement, adding fully-equipped missiles to the unmanned machines in 2000, years after the release of the 1984 movie.
Total Recall Beat Elon Musk To A Self-Driving Car
Companies like Tesla and Google might be very close to an entirely self-driving car, but they’re not quite there yet. Although cars such as Tesla can do a lot of fancy tricks, a person is still needed to do a majority of the work. The technology is very close, but the 1990 film total Recall beat Elon Musk to the punch.
In the film, poor Arnold Schwarzenegger is dumb-struck when he hops into a self-driving car with its own robotic cab driver, aptly named “Johnny Cab.” Yeah, the talking cabbie might be an add-on feature down the road.
You’ve Got Mail Foreshadowed The Future Of Online Dating
At one point in time, stranger danger was a huge concern, and people couldn’t imagine meeting people online. Then, the rom-com You’ve Got Mail threw that entire concept out the window as Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks showed viewers a strange dial-up American Online version of what people would come to know as online dating.
While online dating technically started with Kiss.com in 1995, it didn’t gain legitimacy until the release of the 1998 movie. From there, Match.com and applications such as Tinder and Bumble were released, changing the face of the dating game forever.
Virtual Reality Gaming In The 1995 Film Hackers
For some people, the idea of virtual reality gaming is very farfetched, especially when their first introduction to the technology was in the 1995 film Hackers. In the film, Eugene, aka “The Plague,” is seen playing a game with goggles that look eerily similar to Oculus Rift goggles.
In any case, this technology was just getting a footing in reality. While the hacker in the film seems to be just fine with his VR set, companies were still working out bugs and getting people interested for commercial use. It wasn’t until the 2010s, and Sony’s PlayStation VR release, that people became interested in alternate reality gaming.
The Integration Of Technology Was Predicted In The Cable Guy
Chip, The Cable Guy, was equal parts extremely creepy and predictor of the future. While Chip didn’t really catch on to the bro breakup, at the end of the 1996 film, he makes a compelling speech, expressing what he believes is going to be the future of technology.
The thing is, the crazy cable guy was right. In the speech, Chip talks about the integration of smart tech in households, saying, “Soon, every American home will integrate their television, phone, and computer. You’ll be able to visit the Louvre on one channel or watch female wrestling on another. There’s no end to the possibilities!”
Gremlins 2: The New Batch Illustrated “Smart Home” Tech
Joe Dante’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch might not have been overly realistic, but it did give viewers an inside look at what their future was going to be. Of course, he did this completely unknowingly, but it doesn’t make the Clamp Tower’s smart technology any less cool.
With automatic lights, doors, and everything else you can imagine, the high-tech tower was a looking glass into the future of what is now considered a “smart home.” Thankfully, the modern smart homes that came into popularity in the 2000s don’t break down nearly as much as the tower’s systems in the1990 film.
Invisibility Cloaking In Die Another Day Is Becoming Reality
When it comes to the James Bond franchise, fans weren’t overly thrilled with Pierce Brosnan’s final showing of 007 in Die Another Day. The thing is, fans can groan about the movie all they want; it won’t make the invisibility cloaking technology any less real.
Of course, when introduced in the 2002 movie, invisibility cloaking definitely seemed like a science-fiction gizmo. As it turns out, the Vienna University of Technology did a study in 2017 using a new form of cloaking. In the study, scientists said, “A completely opaque material is irradiated from above with a specific wave pattern… This surprising result opens up completely new possibilities for active camouflage.”
Dick Tracy‘s Watch Communicator Took Years To Perfect
In 1990, Dick Tracy was the envy of more than one kid with his smart communicator wristwatch. It was cutting edge technology that no one really thought would ever see the light of reality. Well, a few years later, the first smartwatch was put on the market.
While the 1997 Seiko Ruputer isn’t anything to write home about, it allowed users to play games via joystick. It only took a few more years for smartwatches to turn into miniature touch-screen computers, allowing the wearer to do virtually anything, including making phone calls and browsing the internet.
The Truman Show Walked So Reality TV Could Run
Reality television first made its way to television in 1973 with the series An American Family. The thing is, the genre didn’t become must-see TV until years later, during The Real World, Bachelor, and Keeping up with the Kardashian-era of reality television.
It was actually seen years before on the 1998 film The Truman Show. In the movie, Truman is an unknowing participant in a wildly-popular reality show based solely on his life. Talk about commentary that would become all too real.
“Big Brother Surveillance” In Enemy Of The State
It’s a bit scary to think that the 1998 action thriller Enemy of the State had a hand in predicting some future technology. In the film, Thomas Reynolds, a Corrupt National Security Agency official has surveillance legislation passed, something very similar to that of George Orwell’s Big Brother.
Well, a hop, skip, and jump into the future has personalized advertisements popping up on social media accounts based on something that person said a few hours before. Thank you, Alexa, Facebook, and anyone else tuning in! And then there is the concept of the government listening in on phone calls, but we won’t get into that.