5 Star Wars Gadgets from Reel to Real Life

 star_wars_gadgets_a_reality

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere - Albert Einstein. 

For more than forty years, the Star Wars franchise has continued to inspire us with all its futuristic technology ideas. Created by the filmmaker George Lucas, one of the iconic works of science fiction, the "Star Wars" movie series has been an exceptional visual treat. Even today, fans fantasize about getting hold of the gadgets used by the characters. Many scientists and engineers are making Stars Wars fantasy a reality by transforming the gadgets from reel to real life. Here are the most famous ones –

1. Lightsabers:

The weapon of Jedi, the laser sword used to cut through blast doors and enemies alike, tops the list of fans. According to the Guinness World Records website, James Hobson and Bogdan Malynovskyy, Canadian inventors, have done the impossible by creating the world's first retractable proto-lightsaber. Here's a video of the impressive invention. 

 

The saber's design is a perfect prototype and truly resembles the appearance and function of the original device. The article explains how the tool is attached to liquid propane gas and oxygen gas tanks that create the high heat levels required to make the plasma beam. The ionization method creates plasma, which is the fourth state of matter and causes the material to glow. In addition, James uses different kinds of salts infused with heat and creates an array of different colored beams to add to the fun. Here are more details of his incredible story. 

2. Bionic arms:

New York Times reports, Fred Downs and Artie McAuley, renowned veterans, are the first two recipients of a state-of-the-art robotic arm that uses computers, sensors, and motors. This invention is similar to the robotic arm in "The Empire Strikes Back." In this series, Luke Skywalker loses his hand in a fight with Darth Vader. However, he gets a new robotic replacement to continue the fight. The Department of Veterans Affairs, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), and private companies have spent eight years designing the robotic arm known as Life Under Kinetic Evolution or LUKE. In the below image, a military veteran demonstrates the Life Under Kinetic Evolution arm system. 

star_wars_bioarms

Picture Courtesy: IP Defense Forum Website.

In addition, Zhe Xu and Emanuel Todorov from the University of Washington have built the most detailed and kinematically accurate biomimetic anthropomorphic robotic hands. The ultimate goal of their invention is to replace human hands entirely.

3. Holograms

Princess Leia recorded a holographic message for General Kenobi. A hologram is a three-dimensional visual projection of an object or data, most commonly used in the film for sharing maps, technical plans, etc. In “The Secrets of Spacecraft”, the holographic technology takes the most advanced turn, where we cannot differentiate between the hologram and the real versions. A San Diego-based company, IKIN, is now developing a smartphone accessory called Ryz that will turn visual content into 3D holograms. Below is a visual representation of the holographic glasses-free technology, that will be viewable in daylight from Android or iOS smartphones with a specialized proprietary chemical polymer lens. Ikin's founder and CTO Taylor Scott and CEO Joe Ward explain how the technology would work in this zoom interview.  

star_wars_holograms

Picture Courtesy: IKIN Website.

4. Hoverbikes:

Also known as speeder bikes, hoverbikes were common throughout the galaxy in Star Wars movies. Aratech 74-Z, one of the best-known speeder bikes, was used during the Clone Wars and the reign of Palpatine's Galactic Empire. Now, flying in a speeder bike seems a reality in less than no time as ALI Technologies, a Japanese start-up, invites motorists to swap their cars for a $700,000 hoverbike. ALI Technologies claims the hoverbike can fly for 40 minutes at up to 100km/h (62mph) on a single charge. According to Reuters, the firm is planning to produce a limited run of 200 single-rider hoverbikes, each weighing in at 661lbs (300kg), for delivery in the first half of 2022. The website gives below a graphic representation of the technology. 

star_wars_hoverbikes

5. Battle Droids:

Lucasfilm registered "droid" as a trademark in 1977. A droid is a robot, many times with an appearance resembling a human. Star Wars robots are different from the robots we have designed so far. The ones in the movie have human qualities, are intuitive and interactive. Since then, many private companies have been trying their best to manufacture droids that are close enough to the performance of Star Wars droids. Engineered Arts, a manufacturer of robots has designed Ameca, the world’s most advanced human-shaped robot designed for human-robot interaction. The below video produced by the ColdfusionTV Youtube channel gives a glimpse of Ameca. 

 

In this article, NBC News has shared a few additional developments. For example, the DARPA Robotics Challenge, an international technology development competition held from 2012 to 2015, motivated creators to build bots that could perform in "human-engineered" simulations. The Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot is more appealing because it can do backflips in a very human-like way. Next is Toyota's THR3 that can be controlled remotely to mimic a user's movements. Another astounding invention is a Japanese Softbank's Pepper robot. The robot can remember people's faces and preferences. It was first installed in retail shops in 2015 and claims to increase visitor footfall; however, the company is currently downsizing its production. 

“Always in motion, the future is” – Master Yoda 

In summary, the Star Wars movies have showcased astonishing technology from robots to lasers, holograms to spaceflights. The franchise has pushed the boundaries of imagination, encouraged us to dare to dream about creating the sci-fi inventions celebrated in their movies. Throughout the Star Wars series, we have experienced a world that is virtual, however, it is possible the iconic gadgets will be soon a part of our everyday lives.