what tech predictions did they get right?

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With flying cars, robot maids and trivial space trips, the cartoon The Jetsons, released 60 years ago by Hanna-Barbera, imagined what the future would be like 100 years from now, in 2062. At first glance, the daily lives of the couple George and Jane and children Judy and Elroy don’t look much like ours. But will it?

Creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera could have been excellent futurists: they hit several products that are already present in our daily lives (40 years in advance of the design!) In other cases, we are still waiting: we know they are viable technologically, but we’re not there yet.

Check out eight predictions from the Jetsons below and which have already (or almost) come true.

video calls

The Jetsons - video call - Playback/Hanna-Barbera - Playback/Hanna-Barbera
Image: Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
  • Featured in the episode: “Rose the Robot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
  • Already exists? Yea

In 1962, television was a luxury item and telephony (fixed!) was not even present in all homes. So the idea of ​​talking to another person through an image was something worthy of science fiction. Some companies were already working on a working video calling system, which was even released by AT&T in the 1970s, but which was far from being accessible to the general public.

The technology only became popular even when we started to have a smartphone in our pocket. It seems like it’s been a while since people cut distances simply by making a WhatsApp video call with someone. But the first camera phone capable of video was only released in 1999 by Kyocera. In the following decade, the emergence of Skype popularized computer video calling. Finally, with the iPhone, video chatting became commonplace.

In the Covid-19 pandemic, working, attending classes and celebrating birthdays via video calls became “the new normal” (okay, I know, the term is not cool).

smartwatches

The Jetsons - smartwatch - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
Image: Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
  • Featured in the episode: “Elroy Fugitive” (Season 1, Episode 24)
  • Already exists? Yea

George Jetson worked little. His journey was one hour a day, two days a week—in a futuristic prediction that (sadly) didn’t materialize. But his boss was always vigilant, via video calls on the protagonist’s watch. He wore a smartwatch when the term didn’t even exist!

The idea of ​​carrying a computer on your wrist is an old one. Remember those Casio watches in the 80s, with calculators and even digital organizers? In 1994, Timex released a watch that communicated with the computer. It was the beginning of the smartwatch as we know it today. Six years later, IBM introduced one that ran Linux, the WatchPad. But, the popularization only occurred in the last decade, with the Galaxy Gear, from Samsung, the Sony SmartWatch, and, mainly, the Apple Watch, launched in 2015.

Today, several brands, big and small, have their own smartwatch, or smartband, like Xiaomi’s popular Mi Band. Receiving much more information than just the time on the clock is already normal and cheap.

domestic robots

The Jetsons - Robot-maid Rosie - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
Image: Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
  • Featured in the episode: “Rose the Robot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
  • Already exists? We are almost there

Interestingly, the first episode of the show established that Rose, the family’s robotic maid, was an obsolete role model for the time. Still, the complaining cleaning lady was already far more versatile and efficient than the service androids that are slowly emerging on the market today.

For now, the humanoid from Elon Musk’s company has been shown doing simple things, like carrying boxes and watering plants. The idea is that the 1.70 m tall, 57 kg robot will be tested in vehicle factories and initially cost US$ 20,000. Then, who knows, it may be sold to the domestic public. Honda, Sony and Xiaomi also prepare similar products.

Humanoids are complex robots precisely because we humans are like that. Therefore, the prototypes presented to date are, for the most part, seem unsatisfactory: they are slow, limited and still consume a lot of energy. We are close, but Rose is not yet a reality.

food printer

The Jetsons - Food Printer - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
Image: Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
  • Featured in the episode: “Family Issues” (Season 2, Episode 6)
  • Already exists? We are almost there

Despite having a full robot maid like Rose, the family had an instant food machine in the kitchen. It was more like a jukebox except that instead of music, it was possible to choose the dinner plate.

The first food printer was created at Cornell University, in the United States, in 2006. It was an adaptation of a 3D printer, which instead of plastic or silicone, created objects with chocolate. Even today, these machines are limited to the main raw material (usually chocolate, baked goods, cheese or a specific nutritional preparation). That is, they don’t “create” the food, they just sculpt it.

A printer capable of generating any type of dish, especially with different molecular compositions (rice, beans, steak and salad, for example) is still a distant dream. Easier for employee robots to arrive earlier.

holographic TV

The Jetsons - Holographic TV - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
Image: Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
  • Featured in the episode: “Elroy’s New Friend” (Season 2, Episode 1)
  • Already exists? We are almost there

We already have TVs available with 8K technology of a resolution unimaginable until a few years ago. But nothing as immersive as the holographic television that Elroy loves. If this is also your dream, start saving money: Samsung is one of many companies investing in the technology, and it thinks it will be viable with 6G telephony, at the end of this decade.

For now, the closest we have are shows that use “holography” to “resurrect” dead artists. In this case, the technology used only brings an illusion similar to that of holography. In fact, the show is presented in a projection on a translucent screen or sometimes in translucent glass reflections from a screen on the floor. Those who are far away have the impression that the artist is there, but up close it is possible to notice the flaws. In addition, the technique does not bring the illusion of presence from all angles.

Shows like this have been in the works for years. In Brazil, in 2013, a holographic Renato Russo participated in a show that ended up being well criticized. The technique of fake holography is being improved more and more. At ABBA’s show, which is currently playing in London, 160 cameras were used in the recording, with an impressive end result.

Flying cars

The Jetsons - Flying Car - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
Image: Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
  • Featured in the episode: “Rose the Robot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
  • Already exists? We are almost there

The family car was so important that it starred in the opening of the cartoon: George crossed the skies while leaving his wife at the mall, the children at school and finally arriving at work (when he was still compacting himself to become a practical suitcase!)

Private air vehicles, capable of bypassing “land” traffic, are the “Holy Grail” of automakers. Several companies have already presented prototypes in recent decades, such as the AirCar, made in Slovakia, or the SkyDrive, financed by Toyota. The most recent was the SD-03, from Japan’s Sky Drive, in 2020: à la Santos Dumont, the pilot made a short flight, but full of potential.

The problems of flying cars are still safety, which needs to be guaranteed both on land and in the sky, the power of the engine capable of making the vehicle fly and, on top of that, being compact, the control, since the driver also needs to being a pilot, and, finally, the price, still too expensive to be sold on an industrial scale.

space tourism

The Jetsons - Space Tourism - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera - Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
Image: Reproduction/Hanna-Barbera
  • Featured in the episode: “The Good Boy Scouts” (Season 1, Episode 6)
  • Already exists? Yea

SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are committed to providing a vacation like the Jetson family – on the Moon. For now, however, they have only been able to offer sub-orbital flights or shuttles to the International Space Station. (They are also building their own stations, which will function as hotels.)

Travel beyond Earth orbit is still fictional. The company Space Adventures has already announced a trip to the Moon, without the right to descend and walk on the satellite, at a cost of US$ 150 million per person. In 2014, they announced that two people were interested in participating – and paying the full amount, but so far, the trip has not had a set date. The Golden Spike Company even announced something similar, with the promise of landing on the Moon. However, the company ended its activities in 2013, without having its plan materialized.

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