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.