5 best sci-fi-inspired gadgets

From Hollywood to our hands – the fictional gadgets that have become a reality

From Darth Vader's lightsaber to Back To The Future's hoverboard, sci-fi has offered us an endless amount of jaw-dropping tech we're unlikely to see in our lifetime. However, a few gadgets have made the leap from fiction to reality, and we've picked out our top 5.

Inspired by: Aliens

Heavy shopping bags? Kyoto robotics firm Activelink has the answer, and it seems to have taken some pointers from James Cameron. Its wearable robot suit is designed to assist the body in movement, making it useful for shifting weighty objects or just getting around. It's even named the Power Loader after Ellen Ripley's hulking exoskeleton in Aliens.

Activelink is targeting the construction industry first, but believes demand will soon become universal. We can't wait to try one on just so we can shout the famous line: "Get away from her, you bitch"

Wearable Power Loader

Inspired by: Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy wouldn't have had quite as much luck with catching the bad guys had it not been for his trusty two-way wrist radio. Now, our watches are finally catching up with the fantasies of the 1940s, with the likes of the Pebble watch giving us access to smartphone programming power on our wrists. And if you fancy yourself as a crusader against crime, this video recording watch might be up your street.

Inspired by: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek's PAAD (Personal Access Display Device) was the stuff of dreams when it first appeared – a handheld personal computer with a touchscreen (okay, stylus) interface. Just over 20 years later and you can wander into a high street store and buy one – in the form of the iPad.

Like its sci-fi predecessor, the iPad is all about putting a computer in your hands with as few buttons as possible, and its succeeds magnificently. There's even a PADD interface app on the iTunes store to turn every Trekker's dream into a reality.

Wrist computers

Inspired by: The Jetsons, laziness

Robot maids and butlers have been staples of science fiction since the beginning of the genre. Now, house-cleaning robots are finally affordable – though they're not quite as bulky as The Jetsons' Rosie. iRobot's Roomba is designed to get into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies - just press the "Clean" button and Roomba does the rest. There's even a Scooba robot, which will wash and scrub your floor instead. Neat.

Inspired by: The Spy Who Loved Me

Taking its inspiration directly from 007's submersible Lotus Esprit, the sQuba can dive to depths of 33 feet and glides through the ocean thanks to its electric-powered propellors.

Yes, while other car manufacturers continue to improve the relationship between car and road, Rinspeed has taken its concept off land entirely. However it's not currently in mass production, so you'll have to put down a hefty sum to get Rinspeed to make one just for you. Just make sure you put up the sun roof before taking a dive.

[by Hugh Langley]

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Rinspeed sQuba