Gadgets and movies have gone hand in hand for decades, with the most imaginative cinematic creatives coming up with outlandish gizmos to wow audiences and even inspire inventors to turn tech fiction into a reality.
Here is a round-up of the devices that have made the most memorable on-screen impact, as well as many that have had an enduring effect in the real world of consumer electronics.
Minority Report’s Multitouch Display
If you are looking for a movie gadget that has been more influential than almost any other over the past couple of decades, then the displays used by the pre-crime investigators in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller have to be at the top of the list.
The idea of using multiple fingers to interact with on-screen elements in real time, as well as using gesture-based controls while doing so, not only defined the look of tech in movies for years, but also helped spur on the development of commercially available multitouch displays on smartphones. Today whenever you pinch to zoom on a photo, swipe right on a dating app or play games on the go at Casumo live casino, you have Minority Report to thank.
Every Star Wars movie is packed with exotic hardware, but the most iconic gadget ever wielded in George Lucas’ space saga is undoubtedly the lightsaber. Powered by kyber crystals and capable of cutting through flesh like a knife through hot butter, it is no surprise that this weapon of Jedi Knights and Sith Lords alike has scorched itself into the memories of millions of film fans.
Of course making a functioning lightsaber without the aid of special effects is more than a little tricky, even if it is theoretically possible. Until scientists figure it out, Skywalker-wannabes will have to make do with plastic toys and their imaginations.
The Wrong Trousers
Hapless inventor Wallace creates a number of different gadgets over the course of his many stop-motion adventures with his dog pal Gromit, but the disastrously hijacked ‘techno trousers’ are perhaps the most compelling of the bunch.
With suction-capable feet that allow the wearer to walk up and down any surface, they serve the purposes of the nefarious penguin antagonist almost too well, up until the point where everything falls apart. Even so, millions of kids have dreamed of stepping into The Wrong Trousers ever since.
Iron Man’s Armour Mark III
Tony Stark iterates his super-armour on a regular basis, and by the time that Avengers: Endgame rolled around, he was up to Mark LXXXV. Of course as entertaining as a nanotech-based suit might be in terms of its action potential, it feels a bit too far out of the realms of possibility compared to the more ‘realistic’ earlier efforts.
In 2008’s original Iron Man, it is the Mark III suit that becomes the character’s most iconic accessory. It still allows him to do plenty of neat tricks, like flying at supersonic speeds and blasting energy beams from his palms, but has an attainable feel thanks to being made out of plate-like components, rather than microscopic machines.
Adding a spring-loaded number pad cover to a standard mobile phone from the late 1990s might not sound like the recipe for a particularly legendary movie gadget, but this is all that it took to turn the Nokia 8110 into a cultural phenomenon when it appeared in the hands of Keanu Reeves’ ultra-hacker Neo in The Matrix.
It was not until the release of the Nokia 7110 that fans could actually buy a device with a similar snap-open cover, as the model used in the movie was custom. Even so, answering a phone call never felt cooler.