Happy Star Wars Day, and may the 4th be with you!
It’s been almost 44 years since George Lucas’ released the iconic Star Wars film that launched the global phenomenon. Twelve movies, three television series and 30 video games later, Star Wars has become a pop-culture juggernaut. From the desert landscapes of Tatooine to the mischievous Ewok race, families across the world have become captivated by this far, far away galaxy.
Technology has played a massive role in Star Wars mythology. We’ve watched Anakin Skywalker race in his very own pod-racer, watched the Galactic Empire build the Death Star, and we’ve watched the Jedi armed with lightsabers destroy evil battle droids. While it’s unlikely we’ll ever get to build our own Death Star (at least in our lifetimes), these films have inspired scientists and engineers to fast-track the production of some of these on-screen technologies into the real world.
If the Star Wars fans in your household are pestering you for a lightsaber, a holographic phone or maybe even their own R2D2 droid, here’s everything you need to know to help set their expectations on the current reality of Star Wars tech.
The entire Star Wars saga kicks off when a retired Jedi (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and a young farm boy (Luke Skywalker) receive an emergency distress message from a hologram Princess Leia. For years, holograms have been considered out of reach, but they are becoming more of a reality in our increasingly virtual world today.
The world caught a glimpse of this reality at the Coachella Music Festival in 2012 when a holographic Tupac Shakur appeared to perform alongside Snoop Dogg on stage. Fans were both surprised and amazed to witness this performance from the Los Angeles rapper who had passed away 15 years prior.
Outside of the public spectacle, the development of the 5G network could mean that holograms become part of our everyday lives. Given the improved connectivity of 5G, the network can support the increased use of AR and VR technologies that blur the line between the digital world and reality. AR Headsets like Microsoft’s Hololens will overlay digital 3D images on a user’s visual field, which means we might be able to receive distress messages from princesses sooner than we think!
It’s safe to say the Star Wars universe would be nothing without droids. C3PO, R2D2, and, more recently BB-8, are some of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe.
Scientists have made considerable strides in artificial intelligence and robotics. While we don’t have our own C3PO’s involved in our everyday lives, technologies like Siri and Alexa are making small steps in this direction.
Over the years, Toyota has developed a series of Humanoid robots - the T-HR3 - that run, play instruments and can mimic and respond to human behaviour. Unfortunately, these humanoid robots aren’t ready to be integrated into our day-to-day lives, but we’re still hoping they will one day.
While you're waiting for your very own real-life droid to be built, you can make your very own R2D2 or C3PO out of Lego. We know it’s not exactly the same, but it is a start.
The choice weapon for all Jedi knights, the lightsaber is the coolest and most recognisable of all the Star Wars tech. Unfortunately for fans our current scientific understanding of the way photons work makes the idea of clashing lightsabers in an epic duel practically impossible.
Nevertheless, a few die-hard fans (check out the Hacksmith on YouTube) have made real-life versions of the lightsaber that can change colours (depending on your relationship with the force) and even cut through walls and cars!
Haven’t seen Star Wars? Well, this Star Wars Day is the perfect time to gather with friends and family to watch the whole Skywalker trilogy if you’re game. Cashrewards members can purchase the entire box set from Sanity, and receive cashback on your purchase. May the fourth be with you!