Futuristic films like Iron Man, iRobot and Robocop had many wishing for their very own androids and self-driving cars. It was something only ever seen in films and never in reality. However, technology has been developing at what seems like warp speed since 1987 when Robocop was first released, because companies have been busy innovating to make everyone’s dreams a reality.
Chappie, Iron Man, iRobot, and a multitude of other sci-fi films have included artificial intelligence (AI), taking the form of advanced virtual personal assistant Jarvis in Iron Man and complex police robots like Chappie. Without realising, we use AI every day, from facial recognition in Facebook tagging, to Googling searches online.
In fact, all this futuristic technology within films has inspired companies like Google and Deepmind to go a step further to blur the lines between the cinema and reality. Even smaller companies have begun to explore the world of AI with everyday items like CCTV. Netamo has developed an intelligent home security system called Netamo Presence, which uses complex background processes to differentiate between a human and a tree blowing in the wind. This may seem like a simple task, but getting a machine to register these nuances requires very sophisticated programming.
Furthermore, it isn’t just security that has been taken to another level, but daily chores are soon to be eliminated as there are now such things as robot vacuums and lawnmowers. These miniature robots can map out a cleaning route to avoid collisions and mow the lawn without you breaking a sweat.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are the new(er) kids on the block. We have seen these devices so many times on the big screen in the likes of Iron Man and Star Wars who use these futuristic devices to save the day. However, now many dreams have come true with VR and AR headsets from innovative companies like Google, Oculus, and Samsung who are continuously introducing next level technology for consumers and businesses. More recently though, Microsoft have released their version of AR called HoloLens which pushes the boundaries of the digital world into reality.
This software is designed with developers in mind as they now have the ability to visualise designs and interact using touch and even voice. However, this device isn’t confined to developers as it has the capability of being used within warehouse management systems. This is a huge incentive for big supply chains like pharma logistics as users can increase the speed of finding a product which improves the efficiency of fulfilling orders.
Companies have already been using automated systems for packaging like Amazon and with the introduction of intelligent robots means tedious, repetitive tasks for humans will soon be a thing of the past. In films we see robots taking on a life of their own, however in real life this is not possible yet.
Saying that, innovation has found a happy medium in the form of collaborative robots like Sawyer. This machine is built for industrial use and can work alongside humans safely. For example, they can cease any activity if they touch anything unexpectedly and has force sensors where humans can guide them when delicate insertion is needed. Much like AR, these new collaborative robots will be able to aid within the distribution and supply chain and increase efficiency across the board.
Remember the awesome self-driving cars in Minority Report and iRobot? Because these are fast becoming a reality. We have come a long way with Google’s Waymo project and the new Teslas having the ability to drive themselves without human help. Even more recently, Apple have started testing "Project Titan" where, unlike other companies, they have moved their focus from building new autonomous vehicles to developing software to sell to existing car manufacturers.
All these amazing inventions are only the start because before you know it, we will have our very own artificially intelligent assistants or even cloning! At the moment, it does seem that it is only big companies that have access to these brand-new innovations, but it is only a matter of time before everyone will be able to get their hands on tech you only thought could exist on the big screen.