Self-Lacing Sneakers and Other Tech Inspired by Movies

Lights, Camera, Innovation!

Ever watched sci-fi movies and wished their tech was real? Well, you’re not alone. Hollywood has a knack for sparking our imaginations, and sometimes those cinematic dreams become our reality. Remember Marty McFly’s self-lacing sneakers in Back to the Future Part II? Those futuristic kicks are now a reality, thanks to Nike.

But it doesn’t stop there. From video calls to holograms, the tech we once marveled at in movies is now part of our everyday lives. Let’s dive into some of the coolest gadgets inspired by the movies that have made the leap from fiction to fact.

1. Self-Lacing Sneakers (Back to the Future Part II)

inspired by the Back To the Future movies
Source: Nike

When Back to the Future Part II hit theaters in 1989, audiences were mesmerized by a futuristic vision of 2015. Among the many technological marvels in the movie, one item stood out and captured the imagination of fans: Marty McFly’s self-lacing sneakers.

In the movie, Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, dons a pair of Nike Mag shoes that, with a simple press of a button, automatically tighten to fit his feet perfectly. For years, sneaker enthusiasts and fans of the movies alike wondered if such a technology could ever become a reality.

In 2016, Nike turned this cinematic dream into a tangible product with the release of the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0. They incorporated a sophisticated system known as EARL (Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing). This system used a series of sensors and a motor to automatically adjust the fit of the shoe to the wearer’s foot.


The shoe featured a rechargeable battery, with a charge lasting up to two weeks, and an LED light display that indicated the shoe’s power and fit adjustment status. Upon its release, the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 was met with a mixture of awe and skepticism. The initial price point was high, around $720, which limited its accessibility to the average consumer.

In the years since its release, the impact of the Nike HyperAdapt has been multifaceted. On one hand, it has reinforced Nike’s reputation as a leader in athletic innovation. On the other hand, it has spurred interest and competition in the realm of smart footwear. Other brands have started to explore similar technologies.

2. Video Calling (2001: A Space Odyssey)

video calling inspired by movies
Source: HighDefDiscNews

In Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, viewers were treated to an intriguing piece of technology: video calling. In the film, Dr. Heywood Floyd, a scientist traveling to the Moon, makes a video call to his daughter back on Earth.

This brief but impactful moment showed Floyd using a device labeled the Picturephone to communicate with his family. At the time, this concept seemed like pure science fiction. But it laid the groundwork for a future where such communication would become commonplace.

The evolution from Kubrick’s visionary Picturephone to the reality of video calling involved several technological advancements and key players. In the early 2000s, Skype emerged as one of the pioneers in bringing video calling to the masses.


Founded in 2003, Skype utilized peer-to-peer technology to offer free voice and video calls over the internet. This was revolutionary, as it allowed people to connect face-to-face regardless of geographical barriers. The appeal of seeing loved ones while conversing, as opposed to just hearing their voices, resonated deeply with users, leading to Skype’s rapid adoption.

As technology advanced, so did the capabilities and accessibility of video calling. Apple’s introduction of FaceTime in 2010 marked another significant milestone. Embedded directly into iOS devices, FaceTime made video calling as simple as pressing a button, integrating seamlessly into everyday communication habits. The convenience and quality of FaceTime helped normalize video calling, especially among Apple users.

Today, Zoom has become synonymous with video communication, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Zoom was initially designed as a tool for business meetings and webinars, its user-friendly interface and reliable performance made it the go-to platform for everything from virtual classrooms to family gatherings.

During lockdowns, Zoom played a crucial role in maintaining human connections. It highlighted the emotional and psychological importance of face-to-face interaction, even if mediated by screens.

3. Gesture-Based Computing (Minority Report)

Source: Slate

One of the most iconic scenes in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report features Tom Cruise using a futuristic computer interface. In a sleek, high-tech environment, he manipulates a wealth of data on a transparent screen by simply waving his hands and making precise gestures.

The concept of gesture-based computing depicted in Minority Report was not just a piece of cinematic flair in movies. It was a glimpse into a future that technologists have been working diligently to realize.

One of the first major steps in this direction was the development of the Microsoft Kinect. Released in 2010 for the Xbox 360, the Kinect was a game-changing device that allowed users to control games and applications through body movements and gestures.

Using a combination of cameras, sensors, and sophisticated software, Kinect could track the movements of players in real-time, translating physical actions into digital commands. This breakthrough demonstrated that gesture-based control was not only possible but also practical and engaging for a wide audience.


Following the Kinect, Leap Motion took gesture-based computing a step further. Introduced in 2013, the Leap Motion Controller is a small device that connects to a computer and uses infrared sensors to detect and interpret hand and finger movements with incredible precision.

Unlike the Kinect, which tracked the entire body, Leap Motion focused on the hands, offering more detailed and nuanced control. Users could manipulate objects on the screen, draw in 3D space, and interact with virtual environments in a way that felt natural and immersive.

Beyond entertainment, gesture-based computing has found applications in fields such as design, where architects and engineers can manipulate 3D models intuitively. And in medicine, surgeons can navigate medical images and data without touching any surfaces.

4. Smartwatches (Dick Tracy)

Source: Times Ticking

Long before the advent of modern smartwatches, the iconic comic strip character Dick Tracy was already captivating imaginations with his futuristic wristwatch. Dick Tracy was a sharp-dressed detective known for his quick thinking and cutting-edge gadgets.

Among his most famous tools was the wrist radio, introduced in the 1946 comic strips, which later evolved into a two-way wrist TV in the 1960s. This device allowed Tracy to communicate with his colleagues and receive vital information, all from a watch on his wrist.

It’s the 21st century, and the once-fictional idea of a multifunctional wristwatch has become a reality with the development of modern smartwatches. Leading the charge are the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, both of which have transformed the concept of wearable technology and integrated it into our daily lives.


The Apple Watch, first released in 2015, marked a significant leap in the evolution of smartwatches. The Apple Watch brought a sleek design and a robust set of features that quickly set it apart. The device combined the traditional functions of a watch with the capabilities of a smartphone. It allowed users to receive notifications, make calls, and send messages directly from their wrist.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch series, with its first model launched in 2018, has also played a significant role in the smartwatch revolution. Samsung’s watches feature a distinct circular design, reminiscent of traditional timepieces, while packing in a wealth of modern technology.

These watches offer a customizable user experience with access to a wide range of apps and services. The Galaxy Watch is known for its robust health tracking features, including sleep monitoring, stress management, and a comprehensive suite of fitness tools.

5. Autonomous Cars (Total Recall, Knight Rider)

Source: Den of Geek

The concept of self-driving vehicles has long been a staple of science fiction. Two iconic examples that have fueled the imagination are the self-driving cars in Total Recall and the intelligent car KITT in Knight Rider.

In the 1990 film Total Recall, directed by Paul Verhoeven, we see Johnny Cabs transport people around a futuristic city. These autonomous taxis seamlessly navigate the streets, providing a glimpse into a world where human drivers are no longer necessary.

Meanwhile, the 1980s TV show Knight Rider featured KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand). This was a car equipped with artificial intelligence that could drive itself, converse with its driver, Michael Knight, and perform a variety of high-tech functions.

KITT was not just a self-driving car but a fully autonomous, intelligent partner in fighting crime. This portrayal of an autonomous vehicle with advanced AI capabilities captured the public’s imagination and laid the groundwork for the autonomous car dreams we are pursuing today.


Fast forward to the present, and the once-fantastical idea of autonomous vehicles is becoming a reality, thanks to companies like Tesla and Waymo. 

Tesla has been a major player in the push towards autonomous driving. Tesla’s Autopilot system, introduced in 2015, marked a significant step forward. It offers features like lane centering, adaptive cruise control, and self-parking.

The more advanced Full Self-Driving (FSD) package promises even greater autonomy. It comes with features like automatic lane changes, traffic light and stop sign recognition, and city street driving. Tesla’s technology is still classified as Level 2 autonomy (requiring driver supervision).

6. Tablets (Star Trek)

Source: Padibroker

The vast universe of Star Trek showcases futuristic gadgets that push the boundaries of what seems possible. One such device is the PADD, or Personal Access Display Device. It first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation in the late 1980s.

The PADD was a sleek, handheld device used by the crew of the Starship Enterprise for various tasks. It was used for reading reports, accessing ship systems, and communicating with others. Its thin, rectangular design and touch-sensitive interface were revolutionary at the time, offering a vision of portable, versatile computing that felt like pure science fiction.

Characters would tap and swipe on the screen to navigate through complex data. This depiction of a handheld, touchscreen device resonated with viewers, planting the seed for what would eventually become a reality in the form of modern tablets.

The leap from the fictional PADD to real-world tablets began in earnest with the introduction of the Apple iPad in 2010. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, it was a groundbreaking moment in consumer electronics.

The iPad brought to life the vision of a portable, touch-based computing device that could handle a wide range of functions. From browsing the web and reading books to playing games and streaming videos, it could do anything. Its sleek design, user-friendly interface, and robust ecosystem of apps set a new standard for personal computing.


Following the success of the iPad, Android tablets soon entered the market, offering a variety of options from manufacturers like Samsung, Google, and Amazon. These tablets brought their own innovations and price points, making tablet technology accessible to a broader audience.

The PADD from Star Trek served as an imaginative precursor to the tablets we use today. The journey from a fictional handheld device to the real-world iPad and Android tablets underscores the influence of science fiction on technological innovation.

7. Holographic Displays (Star Wars)


One of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history is Princess Leia’s holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the 1977 film Star Wars: A New Hope. In this memorable moment, a small droid named R2-D2 projects a three-dimensional image of Princess Leia. She delivers a desperate plea for help, uttering the famous line, ‘Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.’

While we haven’t quite reached the level of holographic technology depicted in the Star Wars movies, significant strides have been made in the development of holographic displays and AR. Companies like Microsoft are leading the charge, bringing us closer to the dream of interactive, 3D visual communication.

One of the most notable advancements in this field is the Microsoft HoloLens. Introduced in 2015, the HoloLens is an AR headset that overlays digital content onto the real world, creating a mixed-reality experience.


Unlike the holograms in Star Wars, the HoloLens uses transparent lenses to superimpose holographic images onto the user’s field of vision. This technology allows users to interact with virtual objects as if they were part of the physical environment. For example, users can manipulate 3D models, view digital information overlaid on real-world objects, and even collaborate with others through shared holographic experiences.

Another exciting development in holographic technology comes from companies focusing on true volumetric displays. These create holograms that can be viewed from multiple angles without the need for special glasses.

While still in the experimental stages, these displays in movies use techniques like laser-induced plasma and light field technology to produce three-dimensional images that appear to float in mid-air. This approach brings us one step closer to the type of holographic communication envisioned in Star Wars.

8. Exoskeletons (Aliens, Iron Man)

Source: IGN Africa

The concept of powered exoskeletons has been a staple of science fiction for decades, capturing the imagination of audiences with visions of enhanced human capabilities. Two iconic portrayals stand out: the Power Loader in Aliens and the Iron Man suit from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the 1986 film Aliens, directed by James Cameron, the Power Loader exoskeleton becomes a memorable tool in the hands of Ellen Ripley. This industrial exoskeleton is designed for heavy lifting and cargo handling. It features a sturdy frame and mechanical arms that amplify the user’s strength.

In a climactic scene, Ripley dons the Power Loader to battle the menacing Alien Queen. The Power Loader’s realistic depiction of mechanical assistance foreshadowed the practical applications of exoskeletons in the real world.

Fast forward to 2008, and audiences were introduced to another groundbreaking exoskeleton in Iron Man. Tony Stark creates the Iron Man suit. Stark’s suit not only enhances his physical abilities but also integrates sophisticated AI and defense systems. The Iron Man suit took the concept of exoskeletons to new heights, inspiring real-world innovations in wearable robotics through movies.


Inspired by these cinematic portrayals, real-world exoskeletons have been developed for various applications, including military, medical, and industrial use. These devices aim to enhance human capabilities, improve safety, and assist those with physical limitations.

In the military, exoskeletons are being designed to augment soldiers’ strength and endurance. The US Department of Defense has invested in projects like the TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit) program.

It aims to create a powered suit that enhances the physical performance of soldiers. These military exoskeletons can help soldiers carry heavy loads, reduce fatigue, and improve mobility, potentially transforming battlefield dynamics.

In the medical field, devices like the ReWalk and Ekso Bionics exoskeletons are designed to help paraplegics and those with spinal cord injuries regain the ability to walk. These exoskeletons use advanced sensors and motors to replicate natural walking motions. Who would have that movies would play such a role in their ideation?

Sci-Fi to Reality

The imaginative worlds of movies have profoundly inspired real-world technological advancements. From self-lacing sneakers to holographic displays, many of today’s innovations can trace their origins back to the silver screen. 

As we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, it’s clear that science fiction will remain a powerful catalyst for real-world progress. The future is bright, and it all started with a dream seen in the movies.

Explore the latest in technology trends and innovations with Inside Tech World, your go-to source for insightful updates!

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