At G2 we're often talking about stimulus; its importance in the Innovation process, where you find it and how to look for it. We regularly highlight how stimulus can come from surprising places- from unrelated industries, to magazines, to toys, to films, TV and so on.
In fact, many of the shows we were watching in the 80’s featured technologies that are now realities today. Given that famous entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson had kids growing up in the 80’s and their younger counterparts like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, actually were kids at this time, it’s easy to imagine how these shows could have provided the stimulus for some of today’s greatest technologies.
It took a bit of debating amongst the team, but here are our top 5:
It’s true that Go Go Gadget arms are not be available at Dick Smiths, but a quick overview of the show has revealed countless tech that can be purchased on the high street. For a primary school kid, Penny had all the coolest gadgets. From her computer disguised as a book (aka a notebook), her watch which could be used to “Facetime" Brains (aka Apple watch) and her advanced navigation system (aka GPS/SatNav) she must have been the envy of computer geeks far and wide. Even Brains didn’t miss out on the action. Remember how his collar had an automated stethoscope like hearing device? He arguably owned the first bluetooth earphones!
Of course Gadget himself also had masses of cool tech. His go-go gadget eyes remind us of Google glass and his go-go gadget legs are not that far off some modern day prosthetics. He also had a talking computer. Siri- eat your heart out!
Originally screened in the 60's with a new series written in the 80's, the Jetsons delivered countless tech ideas. Remember George being ridiculed by Mr Spacely via their wide screen TV? Perhaps the Jetsons were the first pioneers of Skype. Did you ever wish that your TV was as big as theirs? Or that you could go on a space holiday to the moon like Elroy did with the cub scouts?
With Space X and Virgin Galactic on the cusp of delivering space tourism, wide screens now the norm and Skype a commonplace method of teleconferencing- it appears that what we dreamed about as kids (whilst manually changing the channel with a dial) has actually come true.
Technically one could argue that the Jetsons and Inspector Gadget were the forerunners in self-driving cars, but they certainly were not as cool as Kit from Knight Rider. Nor did they have auto collision detection technology. Kit could assess what was happening in his vicinity and react accordingly to avoid a crash. Not only are Google, Apple and Uber all incorporating such technologies into their ‘vehicles of the future’ but traditional automotive manufacturers continue to invest heavily in this area of R&D.
Did you know that Kit was also an environmentalist? As a hydrogen/petrol hybrid, perhaps he was the forerunner to the Prius.
We may not yet be living in a world where robots and humans co-exist in a social way, but are we that far off? Humans and technology certainly co-exist in a way that one may never have considered as a 10 year old, idolising Astro Boy’s rocket fuelled legs and that aluminium quiff of black hair.
In fact, the development of humanoids is a rapidly growing area, the most famous of which is possibly Honda’s own Astro Boy- Asimo. This child-sized robot began life over 20 years ago with an R&D focus on mobility. Nevertheless, more recent research has focussed on human and robot interaction.
Astro Boy saved all humanity when he flew into the sun? Could a modern day robot rescue us from annihilation? It’s possible. Robotic presence in medical Innovation is certainly increasing due to their potential for accuracy, sterility and immunity, so it’s not all together unfeasible that they could one day save the human race.
A Perfect Match
Possibly not an inclusion that you expected, but we are adamant this dating show was ahead of its time. Who could forget the robot Dexter who supposedly mathematically calculated the compatibility of each couple in a way that no human could. Today, dating websites that use a series of algorithms based on our personal preferences to predict the effectiveness of a particular match are a billion dollar industry. If only Dexter had patented himself!
And when it comes to computers showing up humans on game shows, it doesn’t stop there. In 2011, IBM’s Dr Watson beat two highly respected human contestants on the popular US series Jeopardy. Watson has more recently written his own cookbook- so who knows, Masterchef could be in his sights!
So there you have it, our favourite TV fiction turned real tech. Have we missed any of your favourites? Feel free to tweet them to us using @G2aus and #80sTVtechs