When the franchise first started 45 years ago, there was no way of knowing what kind of Star Wars tech would come true today.
When Star Wars debuted in 1977, there was really no way of even conceiving of what heights technology would be aspiring to in 2022. In fact, it preceded the first era of true technological advances by a decade. Sure, we had space travel on lock when we landed on the moon, but now we’re faced with the idea of creating whole new worlds in galaxies far, far away and it doesn’t even sound that weird?
I wanted to take a look at some of the technology that may have been directly or indirectly influenced by the franchise that knows no bounds, so let’s dig in and see what we’ve done to bring science and fiction together.
A crucial plot point happens when Luke comes across R2-D2 and receives an unprompted holographic message from Leia to Obi-Wan. While the first hologram was actually created in 1948, this was the first time they found their way into mainstream culture on this kind of a scale. Today we see them being used everywhere, including to bring 2Pac back from the dead (a personal favorite use of mine).
Sure, having your arm sliced off by a lightsaber would suck (‘tis but a flesh wound!), but when Luke got his bionic arm, it opened up the doors for tech to make it a reality for the millions of people living with limb differences. In fact, Mark Hammil was such a fan of the positive portrayal of his bionic arm that he made a video for Open Bionics aimed at kids with limb differences. If that’s not putting your character to good use, I don’t know what is.
I mean….where to even start with this one when the end is Boston Dynamics? From the minute we were introduced to C3-P0’s golden stature, everyone wanted a robot. The fact that the franchise has used them so much means they’ve also shown the breadth of uses for droids, making them cute (BB-8 and R2-D2), surly (K2SO), or downright dangerous (see: all battle droids ever). Now, maybe nothing nefarious is happening over at the Boston Dynamics office, but after seeing too many videos of their robots engaging in questionably human-like behavior, I’d just like to say “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Lasers and energy weapons
So again, lasers weren’t brand new technology when the first Star Wars movie came out, having already seen the light of day (pun fully intended) around 1960. What the franchise did do, though, was give them destructive capabilities. Now, we still don’t have actual lightsabers that would cut through an arm, but on a grander scale Lockheed just debuted their laser weapon for the AC-130J Gunship, so I think we can safely say that technology took off. It’s no laser cannon, but I don’t think we need to dabble in semantics when a freaking airplane can shoot destructive lasers.
A staple of transportation across the franchise is the use of hover-capable craft, and as a motorcycle enthusiast, nothing excites me more than the developments Lazareth has made in the hover realm with their LMV 496. Sure, they dropped the Maserati engine the original design came with, and it can only hover for about ten minutes at a time, but it’s light and it’s fast and IT HOVERS. So color me impressed.
With the advances technology has made, it’s hard to see how any other film franchise in the recent past or distant future could really stir up ideas the way Star Wars did. I look forward to seeing how the ones they already off continue to grow and improve over the years. Who knows, maybe I’ll be on that hovering motorcycle sometime before the end of the known universe collapses in on itself?