It's been said that "we are the dreamers of dreams," so it should come as no surprise that perhaps the greatest dreamers of all, science fiction writers, have often provided prescient glimpses into future technologies.
With the advent of motion pictures?and, to a lesser extent, television?the canvas of what could technologically be brought to life was vast and visually uninhibited with regard to creativity and sheer audacity.
Some of the most iconic and ubiquitous feats of video engineering in use today were foreshadowed, or even inspired, by works of fiction that accurately led to the development of technologies that were seen as impractical in the past but vitally necessary today.
Many of these science-fiction-to-science-fact technologies are currently in use today, deployed in a wide range of industries, from medical science to manufacturing.
For our purposes, we'll take a look at past media depictions of groundbreaking pro AV technologies that went from prose to patent.
Charlie Chaplin's 1936 comedy Modern Times is a film in which the Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern industrialized world. In the factory scene, Chaplin decides to take an unauthorized break. Soon after he lights a cigarette, Chaplin's boss?the factory manager?appears on a screen, rebukes him for being lazy, and orders him back to work.
While this scene doesn't depict a modern high-end telepresence system employed by enterprise-level corporate organizations, it does uncannily depict the possibility of two-way video conferencing almost eight decades ago.
2. The Communicator/Mobile Phone
When it comes to predicting future technologies, the Star Trek television series, which ran from 1966 to 1969, tops all other science fiction movies combined.
Some current technologies that Star Trek accurately predicted include videophone communications, 3D printers (replicators), and computer speech recognition.
However, perhaps the most iconic Star Trek technology that later became a reality is the handheld communicator?a rudimentary form of today's video-centric smartphone concept.
A few years earlier, in 1964, the classic Dick Tracy cartoon strip introduced the two-way wrist TV, which was yet another depiction of what would become the modern smartphone.
Interestingly, Martin Cooper, the inventor of the first "brick" cell phone, cited the handheld communicators depicted in Star Trek as an inspiration for his invention.
3. Digital Signage/Flat-Panel Displays
The 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey featured numerous fictional future technologies, some of which have proven prescient in light of subsequent developments around the world.
The film depicts a basic form of digital signage as used in the transportation industry. As Dr. Floyd travels to the moon, he is offered an array of personal in-flight entertainment such as video games, TV broadcasts, and movies.
2001 also depicts flat-screen video display monitors, which weren't used for broadcast television until 30 years later, in 1998.
Long before they became ubiquitous among today's Millennial set, portable tablets were commonly depicted in episodes of both the original Star Trek television series as well as its successor, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Called Personal Access Display Device, or PADDs, they were used to sign off on all kinds of intergalactic directives and would later inspire today's powerful flock of tablets and iPads despite industry objections that they would fail.
5. Gesture-Based User Interface/Transparent Display Platforms
The 2002 movie Minority Report is chock-full of fictional technologies that have since become reality, including facial recognition software and personalized advertising.
In one scene, Captain John Anderton?played by Tom Cruise?is depicted dramatically swiping, pinching, and zooming multiple windows and images on displays that seemingly float in thin air.
Those motions are remarkably similar to motions used to interface with today's smartphone touchscreens, tablets, and motion-sensing input devices used on video games.
And at least one company currently manufactures forward-looking, optically clear display platforms capable of accepting content from almost any device or content management system.When installed correctly, they can appear to float in whatever space in which they are located.
Are any of your customers asking you to recreate the kind of visual experience that was once considered science fiction?