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In movies— especially the science-fiction variety—we often suspend our disbelief for the sake of the story. Inventions like faster-than-light travel, teleportation, and planet-destroying lasers are light-years (pun!) away from existing in the real world and we easily accept that. Yet sometimes the technologies shown on screen is so tantalizing that we can’t help but hope to see them realized immediately. Below, we run through several fictional technologies from films and offer our ideas on how their implementation could affect actual workplaces of today.


Tricorders from Star Trek



How they are used in the movie

One of the most well-known staples of Star Trek lore (beside the ships) is the Tricorder. Part diagnostic tool, scanner, and recorder, it has been seen in Star Trek movies and television shows for the past 30 years. Viewers have seen them used to detect hidden force fields, find medical problems, and scan the contents of cargo crates.

How the workplace can benefit

In the real world, Tricorders would be the ultimate tool for a variety of fields. Healthcare professionals could benefit from having a palm sized MRI scanner while warehouse staff would benefit from having a hybrid of a barcode scanner and a tablet.


The Display Wall from Minority Report


How they are used in the movie

Any IT professional that saw Minority Report probably immediately loved the interactive display / computer used by Tom Cruise’s character. In the film, the computer screen is controlled by a person wearing gloves. Windows are moved and dragged with ease while information can be pulled up with only a few gestures. The only thing that isn’t seen is an intuitive tactile keyboard.

How the workplace can benefit

In an office or board room, a display / computer that could be controlled nearly entirely by gesture would be a powerful presentation tool. It may not be the best productivity machine or replace the desktop computer and monitor—but it would be an excellent alternative for a touchscreen or projector. One could argue that the Microsoft Kinect is only a few generations away from becoming such a device.


The Grid from TRON and TRON: Legacy


How they are used in the movie

In the TRON reality, the Grid is a virtual space created by Jeff Bridges’ character in the original film. It is a dark world lit by bright neon lights of buildings and populated by a humanoid beings called programs. In the films, the human characters are able to go in and out of the Grid through a machine. But while in the grid, time moves slower—machine time and real time are not on a 1:1 level.

How the workplace can benefit

If the Grid were to exist, the workplace would probably be a much different experience. Instead of a real office, it could one on the Grid—the cost savings alone could be enormous. No need to have a physical office, as people could telecommute from home while still having all the in-person interactions of the real world. The only issue would be that time would move slower for those on the Grid, but some would see that as a benefit, especially when trying to beat a deadline.


The Robots from Surrogates


How they are used in the movie

A movie probably better known for having a de-aged and fully-follicled Bruce Willis, the premise behind Surrogates is that people in the future are able to control robotic avatars from an appliance in their house. Thus, people are able to customize the way they appear to others and do everything they want without having to leave their house.

In the movie universe, a person’s normal day is to wake up and connect into their surrogate-controlling appliance, disconnect only to eat, relieve themselves, and sleep. Work and play are entirely done through their surrogates.

How the workplace can benefit

Like in the movie, were people allowed to have surrogates, they would probably use them as much as possible. For professions that require physical strength or have a degree of danger, a surrogate could be used instead of having someone there in person. Controlling a surrogate however, would probably be a bit more advanced than using a keyboard or mouse however.


The Operating System from Her


How they are used in the movie

Without giving away too much of the plot from Spike Jonze’s 2013 movie, the basic idea is that the operating system essentially a fully-voiced and personable AI. Instead of causing a dark dystopia however, these AIs are peaceful and exist to help people. They are less HAL 9000 and more Siri®.

How the workplace can benefit

If using the displays from Minority Report seems like too much of a physical activity for you but using a surrogate seems too indolent, the OS from Her may be a good compromise. You would still have a computer monitor, but gone are the mouse and keyboard. In their place would be a microphone from which you would give commands. Worried about appearing strange to other people because you are talking to a computer? Rest assured, talking to a volleyball is far stranger.

Though science fiction often uses the trope of technology having gone wrong, it can present some very useful ideas. At HardBoiled, we’re holding out hope that the Grid can become a real construct in the near-future. But what sci-fi tech inventions would you like to see come to fruition?

Article Name
Sci-Fi Tech We Can’t Wait to Have in the Office - HardBoiled
Sci-fi movies usually show fantastical technology and environments. We discuss which ones we want in the office.
Wallace Chu

Author Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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