There are many instances where the dreams of science fiction become popular consumer products. This is because good science fiction ideas and designs are minimum viable products (MVP). The MVP is the imagined design. The test marketing is putting the idea and design into books, TV shows or movies.
The first three or major four steps of product design are included in good science fiction ideas. These are problem identification, imagining solutions and crafting a design or mockup and then test marketing.
The science fiction ideas only need to be interesting and describable. The SF idea should make a cool mock-up. The limits are not whether it can be built and sold successfully for a profit. Can we mock it up, describe and will people think it is cool?
Star Trek has many examples. The giant flat screen viewing monitor on the bridge of the enterprise are realized in the 65 to 100-inch flat screen TVs of today. There was the flip-out communicators which were the flip phone cellphones. Fans saw the vision and the marketing for the MVPs.
A more recent example is the Rocketbook reusable intelligent notebook. You can send what you write on paper to cloud services.
The Rocketbook has been around for a couple of years, but I missed it until I went shopping at the Amazon 4 star store. The Amazon 4 star store only has products that are trending at Amazon and have a consumer ranking of 4 out of 5 stars or more.
You can buy the Rocketbook for less than $30. You write on pages and send the information to digital storage. You then wipe the pages and reuse them.
Various versions of smart paper, smart newspapers and real-time electronic connections to smart paper were shown in Babylon 5 and in the Minority Report.
Correct Problem Identification and Mocking Up a Product Design
Consumer electronics imagined in science fiction are the easiest to make real. It is tough to imagine anything that people use as a product in the future that will be difficult to make. The problem is that if the idea is too far ahead then the viewer will not connect to it. It will just be weird. If the viewer likes it and it was well conceived then people will want to make them into products.
This is the case for military gear in science fiction as well. If the science fiction writer is clever they can design something useful. They put some effort into design and think about the actual problems. They can identify a real problem and find a new way of looking at it. They can identify a direction for making something far better. They can create a desire for a solution to a problem and the desire for the proposed products.
Engineering Design Steps
1. Define the Problem.
2. Do Background Research.
3. Specify Requirements.
4. Brainstorm Solutions.
5. Choose the Best Solution.
6. Do Development Work.
7. Build a Prototype.
8. Test and Redesign.
The science fiction design solutions are not limited by practical constraints. They do not need to worry about how much it would cost or if there are technological showstoppers.
Stages in the Design Process
Analyze the situation. Before beginning the design, sort out what problem you are trying to address.
Write a brief. …
Research the problem. …
Write a specification. …
Work out possible solutions. …
Select a preferred solution. …
Prepare working drawings and plan ahead. …
Construct a prototype.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
23 thoughts on “Good Science Fiction Ideas Are Minimum Viable Products”
Mat… By the way i love this article and will jot down notes as i have many many ideas concepts and ideas about tools, space and military related objects, tactics and the works.
Mat… Unrelated however this one of my medias to tell news. Some countries are toying with radiowaves to heat up the ionosphere on earth. Look it up. However i believe it is to be the predecessor to my idea of super heating the ionosphere on venus to shed off it’s atmosphere with satellites using these radiowaves in the future. After enough atmosphere on venus is shed off. A thinner atmosphere on a planet is easier to cool off. Making easier to begin the terraforming process. More to it than that. However thats all i want to write at the moment.
Take a look at the permissions you’ve given to the apps on your F-TV.
Notice how many of them you’ve given permission to record audio.
I can enjoy science fiction with some fantasy elements in it (e.g. FTL, psychic powers). If those elements are well defined, their rules are respected and limited to a few.
Star Wars fulfilled these characteristics in the beginning, but it has decayed in suspension of disbelief as time passes and the violations of physics increase.
But in general, I also have a preference towards things that could possibly exist.
IMHO Interstellar is one of the few interesting “classic” space travel sci/fi productions of late (besides a few others like The Expanse and Passengers). The rest dwell in gloomy cyber/biopunk or are fantasy space operas).
About the blight in Interstellar: even if the blight was an incurable bio or nanoweapon, you can do wonders via quarantines. Just make sure you don’t send any contaminated plants up there and you’ll be fine. Microbes and/or nanomachines usually don’t teleport into space worthy environments.
And it if emerges again, burn the plants, evacuate to space and start again. Just avoid too many visits from Earth, which I think was the plan all along.
The enabler for them doing this really was gravity control.
Any movie that gives Matt Damon his just desserts is a good movie in my book.
Wireheads are the dregs of society. Niven told me so.
O please tell me how the aliens contact me with their psychic messages. I’ve always wanted to have a chat with VALIS.
Also while you are here what are the other non alien sources?
(VALIS having the notable credit of being the only “SF” book that took place where I grew up when I grew up. Talk about the luck o’ the draw…)
Maybe you should not comment on something you have already determined doesn’t exist without really checking?
I can see where a cell would be more critical to those subject to just-in-time scheduling.
Better movie for people with kids.
My wife cried for hours.
As somebody who writes SF for fun I can say that an eternal personal annoyance of SF is that somebody makes a story based on an “interesting” idea that can’t actually exist in the real world. The “actually exists in the real world” part is what differentiates Hard Science Fiction and to a lesser extent Science Fiction from outright Fantasy.
Sleigh with runners.
Stop confusing SciFi with Fantasy.
The Fire TV is voice controllable via Alexa, even to what show you want.
I don’t know… I think if the wheel hasn’t been invented yet then your first skate board would be a plank without wheels.
You would be surprised. There’s a disturbing Trend in the service industry of people being on call. A lot of employers at some of these burger joints get big bonuses if they keep wages low. One way that they mitigate that is by Staffing a restaurant with two people. And then scrambling to call in a couple more when there’s a rush. I work at a place that did that and people literally slept in their cars (usually just homeless or vagrant people probably working under the table). In fact a lot of places doing is regularly really can only operate in places where there’s a lot of homeless people they can take advantage of.
The only time I use my phone at work is when I’m too lazy to go and get the work camera to record a photo or video.
Not everyone is a real estate agent.
Many times Sci Fi writers are a precursor of human consciousness, the psychic community is aware that many times they are receiving messages usually unknowingly from aliens and other sources.
I dont have a cell phone. I operate just fine in society. I’ve been unemployed for a total of 3 months over the last 15 years. No employer has ever asked me if I have a cell and I’m a .NET/SQL software developer.
I see a continuation of the trend of embedding computer chips in everything. I see voice recognition every where and AI like face recognition in many places. You should be able to tell your TV to turn on and off, and change channels and change volume.
The talking cereal box on Minority Report was actually “borrowed” from work being done by members of the MIT Media Lab for a cereal company which will go unnamed. I actually have several of the “real” working consumer lab test models in my basement. Still waiting on the cost of printed polymer semiconductors to fall into line.
implants are comming and like a cell phone if you dont have one you will never get a job or operate in society. no choice. if you are old by then youll just be like your grandpa is now….
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