Fictional Gadgets Come To Life

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It takes a while for a great idea to go from imagination to actual use in the real world, but it happens a lot! Three fictional gadgets made real were in the news just this past week.

Terminator Vision

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The Terminator had a computer in his head, with a display readout he could read in his eyes. Several gadgets come close to doing this for humans, so far only while wearing glasses. The latest is the retinal imaging display (RID) from Brother Industries in Japan.

The new RID prototype attaches to a basic set of spectacles and works by focusing light onto the retina, moving it at high speeds to generate images that look like they exist right in front of the user. Too bad the source box is freaking enormous.

Brother plans to launch the product in 2010.

Wrist Communicator

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Dick Tracy spoke into a two-way wrist radio beginning in 1946. A TV was added later. Starting today, you can order the Van Der Led WM2, which is a wristwatch with the functions you'd expect -clock, calendar, alarm, calculator, plus a cellphone with a touchscreen display, bluetooth, USB data transmission, hands-free speaker, MP3 and MP4 storage, etc etc, and it works with all providers in countries all over the world. Dick Tracy never had those kinds of features! And with a wrist phone, you don't have to fumble through your purse or pockets for a ringing phone, or wonder where you last set it down. The cost: €300 or $471. It goes great with a yellow overcoat.

Suit of Strength

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Iron Man hits theaters on May 2nd. The character is super strong because of his suit of iron. You should also remember the exoskeleton used in Alien. The real-life version is the work of software engineer Rex Jameson and his robotics company Sarcos. The XOS Exoskeleton moves well and gives the wearer superhuman strength. Sensors in the suit transmit information to a computer and coordinates its moves, so the wearer experiences no lag and no fatigue. The XOS takes up somewhat more room than Iron Man's suit, but is a lot smaller than the contraption in Alien -with as much strength and more features. Jameson is now working under a $10 million US military grant. See a video of the XOS in action.

No word yet on that time machine.

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April 14, 2008 - 2:47am
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