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10 Technologies Inspired By Video Games

Updated on March 9, 2016
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10. Auto-Aim

American technology company TrackingPoint has developed a rifle with the ability to automatically aim at a target. In numerous games, from Mario Kart to World of Tanks, weapons lock onto particular targets, making it much harder to miss. TrackingPoint’s XS1 rifle includes a real-life tracking button that marks a target and follows it as it moves, ready to automatically fire at the optimum moment. It even accounts for wind speed and elevation to make it as accurate as possible. The rifle currently costs approximately $17,000.

9. Character Control

One of the most definitive aspects of any video game is the ability to control the characters, determine where they go, and what decisions they make. Scientists at North Carolina State University’s iBionicS Lab have created technology that means remote-controlling real, living creatures may be possible. They have inserted wires into the brains of several cockroaches, which can be precisely steered using a computer. This technology can be adapted so the creatures could be used as first respondents, reaching difficult locations during a disaster and identifying the locations of survivors.

8. Programmable Grenades

The common hand grenade generally detonates on impact, but video game Gears of War offers players the option to control a grenade and explode it earlier. This game influenced the real-life creation of the XM25, a rocket launcher with programmable grenades. These grenades can be preset to explode at a specific point. They can even detonate mid-air, spraying shrapnel down on a target. The XM25 is already being used by a number of US Special Forces, and the army is considering wider usage.

7. Vehicle Armor

Heavily-armored tanks are much more resilient than other vehicles. However, technology inspired by the Battlefield series has the potential to make them indestructible. In the game Battlefield 3, it is extremely difficult to destroy a tank, as they can survive multiple hits from a rocket launcher. In order to recreate this in reality, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing a vehicle armor system, know as the Iron Curtain. Using sensors around the tank to identify incoming threats, the Iron Curtain system creates an electric field around the tank, which is able to detonate the explosives before they can come into contact with the vehicle.

6. Exoskeletons

Exoskeletons are powered armor suits that offer an in-game character increased strength, protection, and endurance. They are a popular feature in games like Fallout. Fallout characters can wear exoskeletons that give them almost complete protection against ballistic weapons. Amazingly, recent scientific advancements mean that real-life exo-suits could be right around the corner. Exo-suits could have multiple useful functions, such as helping soldiers carry heavy loads, or allowing rescue workers to access dangerous environments. Technology companies Lockheed Martin and Sarcos have both developed working prototypes of powered exoskeletons for military purposes, but none have yet been deployed in the field.

5. Head-Up Display

In the majority of video games, such as Metroid Prime, the screen displays various nuggets of useful information, including a character’s health, score, or a map of the arena. This is not dissimilar to the technology of Google Glass, a headset that allows wearers to view text and images while going about their daily lives. The $1,500 device is internet-enabled, voice-activated, and can take photos. Researchers at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have also developed a smart contact lens with similar capabilities.

4. Extra Lives

From classic arcade games like Pinball to PlayStation favorites like Crash Bandicoot, extra lives have been a staple of video gaming since it began. Remarkably, the technology is being developed to make extra lives a reality for humans. Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov has plans to build an android body by the year 2045, which could be installed with an individual’s personality and memories. This could mean that a person could get a second chance to live after death. Itskov claims that the necessary technologies for this project already exist and is confident that his life extension initiative will work.

3. Invisibility Cloak

In Crysis, gamers can utilize ‘Cloak’ mode, which renders the game’s character, Nomad, invisible. Scientists at the University of Central Florida are now on the verge of creating a real-life equivalent of this invisibility cloak. The real-life invisibility cloak is covered with nano antennas. These stop light bouncing off it and bend the light around whatever the cloak is covering, preventing eyes from seeing it. At the moment, the cloak only works on minuscule objects. However, experiments are underway to extend its use, potentially making a cloak big enough to hide a human.

2. Power-Ups

From the power pellets in PAC-Man to the Super Mushroom in Super Mario Bros., nearly all video games include power-ups that give characters extra abilities. The closest the real world can get to such items is with drugs. The drug Modafinil, originally developed as a treatment for narcolepsy, is a strong potential candidate. It can help an individual stay awake for 40 hours, while retaining mental capacities. It is currently being studied by the US Air Force to help fighter pilots who regularly need to stay alert for long stretches of time.

1. Medpacs

Emergency medical care in the video game universe is much more instant than in real life. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, an injured character can be treated with even a basic medpac, which will immediately heal their non-fatal wounds. And we may be surprisingly close to real-world medpacs. American inventor and biomedical engineer Joe Landolina invented Vetigel, a gel that can be used to instantly stop bleeding when squirted onto a wound. It works by rapidly binding cells together and encouraging the body’s natural clotting ability.

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