Today’s date is May 4, 2018.
May The Fourth…that’s right, it’s Star Wars Day.
The date was chosen for the pun on the catchphrase “May the Force be with you” as “May the Fourth be with you.” The annual holiday was not actually created or declared by Lucasfilm, but many “Star Wars” fans across the world have chosen to celebrate. It has since been embraced by Lucasfilm as an annual celebration of “Star Wars.”
Here at Edison Nation, we thought we’d celebrate Star Wars Day by taking a look at some actual patent work that has been done around technology that was merely a pipe dream back in 1977.
Battle Droids? Indeed.
Dubbed the “BigDog”, Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google) created a rough-terrain robot that walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads. Powered by an engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system, BigDog has four legs that are articulated like an animal’s, with compliant elements to absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. About the size of a large dog or small mule; about three feet long, two-and-a-half feet tall and weighs 240 pounds.
Force Fields? Got ‘em.
In March of 2015, Boeing was awarded a patent for a protective force field that could stop vehicles from being harmed by explosions. While the patent isn’t about stopping bullets or lasers, it does detect explosions near a vehicle and then quickly heats up the air or water between the vehicle and the blast. This heat creates a plasma shield that is more dense than normal air, adding to the vehicle’s protection.
LandSpeeders? Want one.
Moller International, a company founded in 1983 as a spin-off of Moller Corporation to continue to design, develop, manufacture and market personal vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL) patented their concept in 1990. This machine can hover 10 feet off the ground and cruises at a speed of 50 mph. Starting at a mere $90,000-$125,000, you can have your very own version of a LandSpeeder…
Force-based Technology? You betcha.
In April of 2015, Apple, Inc. was awarded a patent for Learning-based estimation of hand and finger pose. Dubbed “Force Touch”, this patent describes in-air 3D gesturing which allows it to accurately established not only where a user’s hand might be, but also what it’s doing. This would thereby open the possibility of creating detailed hand poses for triggering different actions.
Speeder Bikes? Definitely!
A company called Aerofex, headed by Mark DeRoche, was a huge fan of the speeder chase in Return of the Jedi. With a mission to “democratize flight”, Mark is very, very close to making the speeder bike a reality.
Aerofex is in the process of perfecting an “Air-vehicle augmented kinesthetic control system,” or Aero-X. Prototypes are still being tested, but the price tag upon release is estimated at $85,000. The Aero-X is designed to carry two people up to a height of 10 feet above the ground and reach speeds of up to 45 mph.
The BB-8 Droid? Yep!
The BB-8 Droid is a holonomic robot, which means that it can instantaneously move in any direction on the horizontal plane. This makes it very responsive. The BB-8’s head is likely controlled via magnetic interaction.
Earlier this year, Disney filed for the second patent to bring lightsabers to life.
The company already has one issued utility patent that combines IR light technology with drones. The drones feature an IR sensor that will capture an image of the field of view and then project light through the matter towards the person’s saber, effectively giving the impression that the lightsaber is deflecting laser beams. The lightsabers will also feature haptic feedback to give the user the sense that the lightsaber is switched on.
Disney is intending to use this in their upcoming Star Wars Land theme park, slated to open in 2019.
So, while sadly, REAL lightsabers aren’t available yet, who knows what the future will bring… maybe your next idea!