Straight outta sci-fi: the movie tech we wish they'd make

Our favourite bit was when he paused his boss mid-chat and walloped him repeatedly. We could do that all day. What do you mean, we have issues?

Is it movie bollocks? Yes. The closest we've got is the ability to delete our own tweets.

Time machines

From Back to the Future's time-travelling car to Looper's steampunk contraption, you'll find time machines of all shapes and sizes in sci-fi movies.

In many cases the travel is one-way, so you can travel backwards in time but not forwards, but that's not always the case. It's as if people are making this stuff up.

Is it movie bollocks? Probably. Where are all the tourists from the future?


Never mind virtual reality: Star Trek's holodeck offered simulated reality. Over to you, Wikipedia! "Objects and people are simulated by a combination of transported matter, replicated matter, tractor beams, and shaped force fields onto which holographic images are projected."

Is it movie bollocks? For now the Oculus Rift and the Igloo are as close as we've got. Virtual reality is much easier to do in your head than in an entire room.

Matter transporters

If you're optimistic you'll be thinking of the transporters from Star Trek, and if you're pessimistic you'll be remembering what happened in The Fly.

Matter transportation solves the problem of travelling large distances by scanning your individual atoms, disassembling you, and then rebuilding you somewhere else - with not only your body but your consciousness intact.

Is it movie bollocks? Not necessarily. Scientists have used quantum teleportation to transmit data over 89 miles, although doing the same with people is a very long way off - assuming that it's even possible.

Active camouflage

Where human soldiers use traditional forms of camouflage, the titular Predator had a much better system back in the 1980s: its active camouflage changed as the monster moved, rendering it almost entirely invisible.

Is it movie bollocks? No. BAE has been working on active camouflage for tanks that uses sheets of metallic pixels and on-board cameras to make vehicles disappear, although similar tech for soldiers isn't remotely cost-effective yet.

Brain erasers

Men In Black used them on passers-by and the characters in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind used them to forget unhappy memories, but the idea was the same: machines that could selectively erase your memory, enabling you to forget a very specific memory or selection of memories without also forgetting who you were or how to walk.

Is it movie bollocks? Not necessarily. Researchers in Florida have found ways to delete memories from the brains of rodents by blocking proteins.

Flying cars

When most people think of the future, they tend to picture a world where flying cars are the norm. Though not exactly practical in any way, there's something to be said about the allure of a car that lets you travel through the air and above the traffic.

Ever since the end scene from Back to the Future, in which Doc Brown tells Marty "where we're going, we don't need roads," before flying away in an upgraded DeLorean DMC-12, people of all generations have eagerly anticipated the creation of personal, car-like aircrafts.

Is it movie bollocks? Well, sort of. The first flying car is set to hit the skies in 2017, but let's be honest – it's just a plane with car-style wheels, isn't it?

Iron Man suit

Okay, so the average person doesn't need (and probably shouldn't have access to) an Iron Man suit, but it's hard to deny it as one of the coolest pieces of tech to ever appear in a movie. While Iron Man has been around in comics and cartoons for several decades, it wasn't until we saw it in action in the first live-action Iron Man movie that we realised how immensely awesome (and difficult) it would be to pilot one in real life.

Aside from being able to fly, shoot lasers, provide armoured protection and incredible strength, it's also powered by an arc reactor, which is a completely safe form of energy that's 100% eco-friendly – so when you think about it, piloting an Iron Man suit is just as responsible as owning an electric car...

Is it movie bollocks? It actually isn't – the U.S. military has been testing its own version of a powered armour suit since 2013, though we imagine that it won't be powered by an arc reactor and it surely won't look anywhere near as stylish.

  • techradar's Movie Week is our celebration of the art of cinema, and the technology that makes it all possible.
Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.