In many cases of the futuristic fiction genre (especially Sci-Fi), we hear stories where an advanced technology has evolved or has been created, and said technology plays a huge catalyst to the plot or memorable scene in the film.
An example of this would be in the 80s and 90s, when we had the internet and super computers making us speculate what technology was around the corner. With it came many films where breaking technology played a huge part to tie in with topical trends and the market. Examples would be films like 2001: A Space Oddessy where a super computer called HAL 9000 evolves to consciousness and goes on a mission to wipe out anyone who tries to shut it down, Jonny Mnemonic where Keanu Reeves plays a man with a large percentage of his brain replaced with computer memory, and The Matrix in which it turned out that all of reality as we know it was actually a computer generated simulation.
You can see how technology and speculation trends have effected fiction and opened our imagination as to what is topical at the time.
The current technology starting to make exciting waves in the public eye for future prospects is 3D printing. It has presented us with the early signs of medical advances like being able to print new body parts for transplants, consumer changes in how we purchase physical goods by supplying blueprints to replicate your own objects, and downright strange things such as rehoming hermit crabs! In a roundabout way, many are comparing the start of the 3D printing revolution similar to the start of the computer revolution that bought us literally to this point; you reading something I wrote and put on the internet for all to access from the comfort of my desk. I recently read a great quote reflecting this on PublicKnowledge.org that said of that the 3D printing community as a small and technically proficient group, all intrigued by potential; They adjust settings on machines, share their new findings, and stay focused on what each discovery could mean for the future rather than its imediate effect.
Whether it is the ability to build a robot, replicate objects or just some of the strange and experimental objects that have popped up from rapid prototyping recently; say hello to a few of my favourite 3D printed happenings that look more like they belong in a fictional film about tomorrow than our present reality…
German engineers Fraunhofer had an innovative idea when they decided to build a prototype of a vehicle without the confines of wheels or tracks, based on the appearance of an arachnoid. The prototype can walk on any terrain thanks to the fact it has four legs to balance on at all times, whilst being able to position the other four to make its next movement. Some of the models have even been built with hydraulics based on arachnoid biology that shoot fluid into the legs to jump into the air too.
The cost and time effectiveness of rapid prototyping means that blueprints can be adjusted for various terrains and tasks. Let’s just hope someone doesn’t make an 80 foot tall one that shoots lasers!
Halloween masks could be getting to a new level of realistic in the future. Whether it be dressing up as a famous icon or swapping faces with a friend, Japanese company REAL-f have developed a Three Dimensional Photo Form that can recreate a realistic replica of someone’s face, complete down to skin tone and blemish detail.
Although 3D printing is only an aspect of the process, creating colours, textures and finishes is down to the 3DPF more than rapid prototyping as we know it now. It’s an interesting aspect of the technology that could be incorporated into all 3D printing in the future, much similar to the way our phones now incorporate a mini computer.
Not so long ago Shapeways ran a competition get their users to submit what they interpreted Siri, the iPhone voice module, to look like. The winner of the competition was SaGa Design, with this innovative sculpture that doubled as an iPhone case and pictured a featureless head trying to escape the confines of the gadget. It looks like something straight out of a horror film in its own right.
Although this example is not directly related to the happenings of the Terminator franchise, I think it’s connected in a farfetched way that 3D printing could give a self-aware computer a way to build itself into a physical form, although I’m not willing to place any bets on it actually happening!
My advice for the future would be to keep on top of the 3D printing world for many reasons; money making innovations, keeping up with technology trends and most importantly… THE EXCITMENT!
Pete Reynolds is a writer for 3D printing and Rapid prototyping machinery suppliers Emco. He is an avid film fan and enjoys watching cinema topical of its era, such as the alien invasion films from the 60s when UFO-mania was at its peak or the American Counter Culture films of the 70s.