Terry Pratchett, author of several fantasy novels, perfectly captures technology in this quote: “It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.” We have come so far with technology that you won’t believe what inventors have accomplished this century, including a small polymer material that can turn an Olympic-sized pool into a gel, an exoskeleton for the military like in Call of Duty, and more. Who would have thought that we were this close to sci-fi films, right? Without further ado, here are some futuristic inventions that already exist today.
Device that can see through walls
In 2015, a Czech radar manufacturer successfully created a device that can see humans on the other side of a wall. For the technology to function, the human behind the wall must be breathing or moving his or her limbs. Three years later, MIT researchers also created an AI-type technology that can see anyone behind walls with 83 percent accuracy, in stick form and in real-time. If that’s not impressive enough, then just a year prior, researchers from the Technical University of Munich managed to invent the same technology using just Wi-Fi routers.
Exoskeleton suits like in first-person shooter games
Exoskeleton suits are a sci-fi video game thing. But now this technology is a reality. Well, close to reality. Back in 2018, Russia invented an exoskeleton suit that can enhance the user’s physical capabilities. The prototype is called RATNIK-3. By wearing it, the tester of the exoskeleton managed to lift heavy objects and wield a machine-gun with just one hand.
As for protection and enhanced strength, the suit is made with a titanium framework. It still needs major improvements though, particularly on energy storage as the suit can only work for a limited time.
Gel-forming polymer that can turn water into gel
It is possible to turn water in a pool into gel with commercial products available on the market. But it will take a lot of gel powders and days to accomplish such a feat. Dutch researchers did one better with their gel-forming polymer.
It was so powerful that the researchers said sprinkling just a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the material across an Olympic sized swimming pool will turn the water instantly into gel. Alan Rowan, a material scientist at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, said that the invention is the “best gel-forming polymer in the world,” as reported in Nature.
How does it work? Once the polymer is dissolved, you need to heat it. The long tails of repeating carbon and oxygen molecules connected to the peptide arms, a feature of the polymer, push water molecules away, linking with the other tails. This quickly builds a polymer structure with trapped water in between. The gel is formed within seconds once the suitable temperature is reached.
The developer foresees the technology being used on open wounds. Ideally, the gel could be formed when it heats up to body temperature and liquified by applying an ice pack to the area when it is no longer needed.