Sci-Fi works its best magic when not only does it comment on today’s trials and tribulations, but also has a hand in providing a quick glimpse into our own future. Many movies and television shows have certainly predicted the odd jump in technology, but as the years go by these developments become even more significant.
Still, aside from the character studies and the ‘what it means to be human’ lessons in Star Trek, other instances of sci-fi looking to the future can be found in their various portrayals of HMI technology. Consequently, here’s how the genre has truly impacted the HMI tech of the future.
What is HMI Tech?
Human Machine Interface (HMI) technology is defined as being any system software or device that allows you, the user, to fully interact and engage with a machine. This means that everything from your touch display on your energy smart meter to your very own smart phone can be considered as HMI tech. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, both examples are extremely recent arrivals in the tech sector.
In the world of sci-fi, things aren’t quite so new. As Luke Skywalker swerved through space to eliminate the Death Star in 1977’s Star Wars, you might remember his X-Wing’s targeting computer swinging out to assist him in the cockpit. Well, that’s HMI tech! Alternatively, if you’re more of a Star Trek fan, you can use any one of the various ship’s bridges and consoles as good reference points of HMI tech in action. Humans (and aliens too in the shows) interact with the machines in order to achieve their objectives and accomplish their goals.
Today, the tech is becoming easier to come by. Companies such as Schneider Electric offer a diverse range of HMI tech, incorporating elements of these incredible fictional worlds into reality.
Voice Activation Software
Another recent example of HMI tech that saw some of its origins being explored in sci-fi is the revolutionary voice activation software. You may remember Captain Picard’s rousing calls of ‘computer!’, and then on he goes to instruct his USS Enterprise to obliterate his opponent or end a holographic simulation. Excitingly, these kinds of developments now have a presence in the real world.
Of course, instead of shouting ‘computer!’, many people today instead bark orders to Alexa, Siri, PlayStation, and any other number of HMI tech out there. Interestingly, Google have code named their voice activation software the Majel, who is named after the wife of Gene Rodenberry, creator of Star Trek. Additionally, she also voiced the computer in The Next Generation, taking Sci-Fi’s influence over today’s HMI technologies to the next level.
Another recent newcomer to HMI technology is virtual reality. Whether it’s the Oculus Rift or other forms of VR, they typically take the form of goggles and have only been made commercially available in the last few years. They’re popularly used in the video gaming industry, allowing gamers to immerse themselves in new worlds and adopt the personas of the characters they’re playing.
Of course, other forms of virtual reality have been heavily prevalent in sci-fi. Again, the holodeck in Star Trek springs to mind, where entirely new interactive environments would be rendered around them, complete with AI interfacing. Of course, typically the starship crews would use the holodeck to reacquaint themselves with Earth, where as in reality today people use them to escape Earth!