We all adore fiction! Chiefly owing to its ability to introduce us to possibilities. Possibilities in life, in choices, in knowledge, in occupation, even in technology. Fiction nudges its audience towards a pathway bursting with prospects and opportunities, a world as far from reality, yet just as connected with it.
We’ve cherished and embraced fictional movies for their knack of introducing their viewers to the “impossible”. Technology, in particular, has been one aspect that fiction has often blended in its tale with the aim of adding an inconceivable tint to its narrative. Movies allow the makers to bend the barriers of reality and explore fascinating spheres which might not always be real or scientifically probable.
But while Jeff Goldblum's software virus, probing alien motherships to self destruct, or Back to the Future’s flying cars and self-lacing Nikes might not have come to life, cinema has still presented us with many technologies which are actually prevalent and which hold a promise for a better and more convenient future, adding a surprising yet realistic touch to a certain portion of the cinematic universe.
One such technology is the Internet of Things (IoT). We may or may not be familiar with the exact meaning of this technology but we’ve definitely come or still remain in contact with it at some point of our lives.
The Internet of Things (IoT) basically concerns the billions of physical devices throughout the world which are now connected to the internet, continuously gathering and sharing data.
This incorporates a remarkable number of objects, of all shapes and sizes, be it common household items like refrigerators and light bulbs or smart microwaves that automatically cook your food for the appropriate length of time, or self driving cars (You can also take a glance at our blog on Can electric vehicles save the overall environment?) which are packed with complex sensors to detect objects in their path, or also wearable fitness devices which calculate your heart rate as well as keep track of the number of steps you've taken in a day, applying that information to formulate appropriate exercise plans and even smart cities which adopt IoT devices like connected sensors, lights, and meters to gather and analyze data. The cities then employ this data for enhancing infrastructure, public utilities and services, and more.
Be it a trivial or an integral aspect, technologies have since long been incorporated in movies to enhance or expediate its storyline. IoT in particular has been adopted even before the technology was properly established. From smart cars to smart devices, smart cities to smart watches, there has been subtle or not so subtle application of IoT in prevailing science fiction movies from the dawn of movies itself.
The movie makers have struggled to arrive at an equilibrium between fantasy and realism thus raising the argument of whether movies employing this technology are proposed to be a platform for eluding reality, for manifesting our technological conquests, or just as a cautionary saga.
Here we’ll discuss certain movies that highlight the approach of IoT in a compelling and engaging fashion and explore what message we can derive from these.
Whether we take into account the hoverboards, the flying cars, or the fingerprint biometric, Back to the Future made rich use of technologies and Augmented Reality. A little too rich a use if we are being honest, since being based in 2015, we have now arrived in the year of 2020 and flying cars and hoverboards still remain an enigma, with safety being a crucial concern.
Below is the trailer for this classic movie :
The actual IoT touch in the movie however was brought by its prophecy of the goggles worn by Marty, the wearable tech device highly resembling today’s Google Glass, that offers an Augmented Reality experience, allowing the user to access the internet, navigate, as well as take pictures or videos.
Despite Minority Report holding the edge of being more contemporary than various other pop culture predictictions the movie excellently handled the swipe and pinch interface of smartphones as well as touch based interfaces! Presently Gesture Based Technology holds tremendous scope having marked its debut at CES with the Microsoft Kinect as well as the Leap and HiMirror Plus which are also gesture controlled.
HiMirror is a gesture based technology that aids in assessing the skin's condition such wrinkles, fine lines, clarity, dark circles etc, so that one can effectively be aware of the problem areas.
Another excellent factor that makes this movie revolutionary is the way it toyed with the idea of self driving cars, which has been accomplished, though not completely but to a certain extent by Tesla as well as Voice automated homes which has also begun getting accomplished through home devices like Amazon Echo, Apple Home Kit, Ivee Sleek etc.
The Warren Beatty starring 1990 movie, Dick Tracy, featured Tracy interacting through his wristwatch. What’s shocking is how the concept of “smartwatch” was predicted with its comic books back in the 1930s. The present technology has taken an even more advanced turn with the user being able to control even their smarthomes through an Apple Watch.
Yet another movie that made rich use of the IoT technology is the Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence starring Passengers. Released in 2016, the sci-fi film shows the protagonists working together to prevent their malfunctioned spaceship from meeting a disaster. The movie portrays a rich plethora of IoT devices from a cognitive bedroom which could offer a more personalised experience through its hyper sense.
Such a bedroom is no longer a complete fantasy with Harman Audio and IBM Watson’s Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms concept. The movie also features interactive robots characterised by emotional intelligence, omnipresent sensors, well you get the gist.
What’s the point of discussing applications of IoT in cinema if its founder the Star Wars franchise isn’t mentioned? The Star Wars universe consisted of its own Internet of Things having interconnected devices and entities sprawled all over the place.
Starting from the Force, which is the energy field, created by all living entities that connects everything in the galaxy to the Droid which is every robotic entity in the Star Wars universe, everything is a smart system. Considering the fact that the movie hit the screens long in the 1970’s its incorporation of somewhat accurate IoT predictions in the far future is applaud worthy.
Below is the trailer for the 2019 Star Wars movie :
It would be an offense to this blog if it doesn’t offer a tribute to practically the mikado of IoT, the leading figure of Marvel, the one and only Tony Stark.
Tony Stark aka the Iron Man made crafty and fascinating use of Data Science to accomplish all his IoT goals. The man employed machine learning as well as the automated data collection and analysis process for aiding him in making strategic decisions efficiently and to coordinate his gadgets to serve him.
(Speaking of data analysis, you can also take a look at our blog on How Big Data Analytics Is Shaping Up the Internet Of Things (IoT)’s? )
An excellent example of Tony Stark’s use of IoT is his designed home computing system J.A.R.V.I.S. From heating and cooling systems to analysing engines and assisting Stark in projects the system managed everything in the house. The system was also adapted to be downloaded into the Iron Man mark 2 and 3 armors to assist Tony in navigating the systems.
J.A.R.V.I.S is basically a multi operational software program which is capable of administering and controlling the local environment of the interior of Tony’s mansion. From being powered by an advanced user interface with holographic peripherals, consisting of the voice interface of Siri, automation enabled through big data and cloud computing, a complex building control system, it all made J.A.R.V.I.S a sophisticated and fascinating A.I.
J.A.R.V.I.S was programmed with natural language understanding, i.e he was able to comprehend a voice command’s intent. (You can also take a look at our blog on 7 Natural Language Processing Techniques for Extracting Information)
He also incorporated knowledge representation (knowledge of the world and its interrelationships) as well as planning (awareness of how to sort and accomplish a certain goal) and perception (the ability to process received signals and collaborate them into a unified representation of what is ongoing) Basically the device was loaded with all characteristics of IoT.
I would like to conclude this blog by stating that while obviously not being completely accurate or authentic, our cinema, in the past and in the present has definitely played a huge role in reflecting and inspiring the application of IoT, presently and in the coming future. After all we exist in a world where the line between fantasy and reality is steadily diminishing with the one and only weapon we address as technology.
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