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May the Fourth, and Technology, Be with You

26 May 2015 by Desiree Samson

May the Fourth Be with You. Today is Star Wars Day, nothing short of a holiday for Star Wars fans everywhere — a time to celebrate this epic, intergalactic battle between good and evil. And this is an especially important year for devotees of the film, as “Star Wars: Episode VII” is hitting theaters this December.

Whether you are a diehard Star Wars fan who will be styling your hair in two side buns or donning a lightsabor by your side for the day, someone who simply enjoys the films, or someone who has never seen the saga (gasp), Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon. And here at Insight, we have a particular interest, simply because of technology.

When Star Wars was released in 1977, viewers were not only in awe of the technology behind the making of the film itself, but the technology within the film — all of which are cataloged in the “Wookieepedia.” So today, in honor of Star Wars fans everywhere, we want to talk about that influence — or should we say force — through the lens of technology. We’re not going to talk about technology in a galaxy far, far away but about futuristic technology in movies that are in the here and now.

3D-Printed Limbs

In “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” Luke Skywalker loses his hand in a duel with Darth Vader that is later replaced with a cybernetic hand. This technology is no longer sci-fi and is replacing deadweight prosthetics. This year, 7-year-old Liam Porter got a 3D-printed Clone Trooper arm and the company Exiii created “an arm that looks about as usable as Luke’s post-saber battle bionics.” Just Google “3D-printed limbs” to find out how technology is transforming prosthetics.

Tablets

From the PADD (Personal Access Display Device) used in Star Trek to the man holding a tablet when asking Marty McFly to donate money to save the clock tower, touch-screen technology has been in our lives — conceptually speaking. But we no longer have to time travel or go at warp speed to experience this technology: iPads, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy Tab, the list goes on and on.

Wearables

“Back to the Future II” is set in 2015, and while we sadly are not all floating around on hoverboards, the movie did accurately predict a decent amount of future technology — wearables being among them. In the film, Marty McFly’s future family is seen wearing devices at the dinner table. While we have been utilizing wearables for some time now, think walker trackers, we are seeing wearables take off with the Internet of Things: Apple Watch, Google Glass, Fitbits and the Oculus Rift.

Facial Recognition Technology

“Minority Report” predicted facial recognition and retargeted ads all in one fell swoop. Although in the film, the ads pop up using facial recognition versus consumer search history. Just last year the FBI launched a powerful facial recognition system, Facebook uses facial recognition to suggests tagging people in photos, and Intel uses this technology to allow people to login to their devices.

So remember — while you enjoy your flat-screen TVs and smartphones — these were once only real on the silver screen, and more importantly, May the Fourth Be with You.