by Marije Nieuwenhuis

May 13, 2014

What Seven of Nine, Michael Knight and James Bond accurately predicted

Humans have only recently become out-of- the-box thinkers, forward-thinkers desiring-to-actively-shape-the–future thinkers. And ever since we started designing and manufacturing the first technologies the human mind has spun around the idea that like an exothermic chemical reaction we can actually influence our surroundings.

The thought of this possibility tends to develop itself a lot more rapidly than the tool with which to execute the actual idea. This hungry impatience showcases itself eloquently in movies and on the small screen where we see protagonists using technologies that were theoretically feasible, albeit not manufactured to its full perfection.

Forward tech-thinking was portrayed very vividly in films and popular TV series in the 70s, 80s and 90s. So, what were wearable technologies on the small screen and in movie theaters back then which predicted an actual consumer product we have today?

Augmented communication: Knight rider – Michael Knight
Michael´s interactive sensor wrist band with voice control certainly drew the audience´s attention – many of its features are actually being used in today´s smart bands, such as a heart rate senor, thermometer and GPS.

Some specs on the 80s most beloved tech-infused car Kitt. Character Michael Knight often communicates with Kitt by using his smart watch equipped with voice recognition and interactive radio.

Conneting with your car from a distance is on a low level already possible via a smartphone app, however, the functionalities are still relatively limited.Let´s see where that will lead us…

Visual augmentation: the visors from Star Trek
Both characters Geordi La Forge as well as Seven of Nine use visual aids in the popular tech-infused TV-series. In La Forge’s case it assists the lieutenant commander on the USS enterprise to actually see as he is 100% blind. An inspiring example of how we can make wearable technologies work for us and better ourselves.

Character Geordi LaForge from Star Trek is fond of wearable technologies…however does desires a more bionic eye-type solution.

Cyborg machine turned human Seven of Nine was the first to introduce us to the idea of Google-esque glasses Enterprise style and making it look rather cool at the same time. Her version is already being used in the military and design wise her augmented visual aid 25 years ago was ahead of its time.

Sensing and tracking: James Bond, in almost every single movie
Bond uses quite an array of wearable technologies that link their use to a slightly more foreseeable future than Star Trek does. It helps of course that the man is 100% vintage and only warms up to the technology only if it really proves useful. Exploding pens, key chains and cutting laser equipped watches are no consumer technologies).


Scene from Die Another Day – Tip: fastfoward to 1:24 and you will see Bond wearing simulation glasses.

However smart watches definitely have potential: Bond uses them in many of the movies either as a communication, telex, sensor and/or tracking device. For example Bond is implanted with a microchip that helps MI6 to keep track of Bond’s exact location and his vital signs. These sensor techniques are already successfully used by soldiers or for health sensing in smart sensor textiles used by athletes.

From fiction to fact
These forward thinking examples teach us that our mindset has been ready and hungry for wearable technologies since half a century or maybe even longer just think of hearing aids and “normal” glasses. Also it teaches us that our mind is still ahead of manufacturing and consumer market realities. However as development cycles are already moving faster and certain wearables such as smart bands and sport sensors are becoming consumer market and margin healthy these lead times will decrease.

What will be up next, perhaps medical wearable? La Forge´s visor combined with Seven of Nine´s savvy sense of wearable style?

Compilation of former machine turned human cyborg Seven of Nine.

Are you an ambassador forerunner in Wearable technology? Find out at the US annual Wearable Technologies conference in San Francisco on July 8 and 9 @fortmason.