What are some futuristic consumer products you know?
September 13, 2015 8:12 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for futuristic everyday consumer products that are the result of advanced research and development. Like stuff made for space travel, or extreme environments and situations, e.g. the Fisher Space Pen, highly functional workout clothes, Soylent, etc. Basically products that makes you think you're living in the future. Industry doesn't matter.
posted by Foci for Analysis to Shopping (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You may be interested in NASA's technology transfer program. It's not all consumer goods, but you might be surprised what you use every day that was developed for the space program.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:18 AM on September 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

GPS is a good example, with atomic clocks and relativity and an entire fleet of satellites to help tag our tourist photos.
posted by moonmilk at 8:28 AM on September 13, 2015

PrimaLoft was originally developed for the US army and really is pretty amazing.
posted by veery at 8:29 AM on September 13, 2015

You should probably clarify when the objects would seem futuristic. Things like petroleum-fueled cars are electric lighting would be considered wildly futuristic only 150 years ago. Smartphones, GPS and today's Internet would seem futuristic just a couple of decades past, but are pretty old-hat at this point.

Things that still seem futuristic to me today, yet have wide commercial availability:

* The Tesla Model S (and, to a lesser extent, other modern electric cars)
* RFID-based key entry and ignition systems in cars
* Curved, OLED TVs
* LED lighting
* SSD memory
* Large solar installations & modern windmills for power generation
posted by eschatfische at 8:35 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Futuristic as in futuristic (CONSUMER products) to you today.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:43 AM on September 13, 2015

Amazon echo and to an extent google now are still marvels to me. My echo let's me control my lights and sound system (and anything else that works with wink or smart things or has IFTTT) by voice alone and its error rate is only around 5% (google now fails about 20% of the time and don't even ask about siri).
posted by dstopps at 9:48 AM on September 13, 2015

Google Maps and Street View
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:19 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Kindle and just tablet devices always make me think we're living the dream of HG2G.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2015

This is both good and bad futuristic: The fact that everything is in a database, and all the databases are connected.

Here's an example of the kind of connectivity I mean.

A guy totaled my parked car. His insurance company rented me a car -- when I went to the rental place, they were waiting for me, knew exactly who I was and why I was there; they had all my data already. They just tossed me the keys.

The insurance company bought my totaled car. I lost the pink slip, I said. It was from another state, I said. Don't worry about it, we've already got the data. Sign right here.

I bought a new car. My own insurance company brokered the deal. I went online, pointed at a car and said, that one. Go down and pick it up, they said. All the financial and registration stuff was already taken care of, my name already on every document. Keys were on the guy's desk, waiting for me.

To celebrate the new car, I drove from the U.S. into Canada. I got about 100 yards over the border before my phone chirped with a text message. Hey, we noticed you're in Canada -- here's how the roaming charges work.

I drove over a toll bridge. They photographed my license plate, connected to a U.S. database and a few weeks later, they sent a paper bill right to my door. I paid online, and then my bank emailed me. Hey, we just wanted to point out that your debit card was run by the Canadian toll bridge company -- is everything OK?

Look, I know I'm describing Rich Suburban White Guy Dream Land, and it's not like this for most people. But every time I turn around, I'm like, holy fuck, how do you people know all this? And how the FUCK did this shit all work back in the 60s, when I was born? I can't decide if living back then was Utopia or Hell on Earth.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:37 AM on September 13, 2015 [12 favorites]

Real-time video communication has been a sci-fi staple pretty much forever. It is now available to anyone with a smart phone or computer.
posted by pheide at 11:05 AM on September 13, 2015

Laser eye surgery, surely! 10 min operation and I could see the leaves on the trees (before my eyes started to get irritated).

Free videophone calls via Hangouts, Facetime, Skype etc. It's transformative if your family is a continent away.

Since we live in the grim cyberpunk future, you can buy tiny wireless earphones to wear internally for exams via graffiti on many walls in Russia.

Plastic, partially transparent banknotes.

Psst! Wanna buy a satellite?
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:18 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sugru seems futuristic to me. It astonishes me that there's this one kind of goo that you can use to fix or adhere almost anything, that you can mold in any shape, and after 24 hours—hey presto!—it's sturdy, flexible rubber.

My smartphone and my kindle give me the same reaction. Also the way you can use YouTube, Flickr, Google Earth, etc. to see any place in the world. I used this Random Geographic Coordinates generator, and (once I hit a set of coordinates that was land) I found the nearest town. Happens to be Kharga, Egypt. I search for that on YouTube and voila: I can see the place, as though I were there.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:48 AM on September 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Grand St. does a pretty good job of curating futuristic consumer products. Some of what they have smacks of skymall more than future, but their Connected Devices section, for example, has some good stuff.
posted by nadise at 12:15 PM on September 13, 2015

Best answer: These are still more on the novelty side of things for consumers, rather than function, but they both read future to me: Gallium, metal that melts in your hand & Aerogel, a superlight solid material.
posted by subsupra at 1:09 PM on September 13, 2015

How 'bout the Internet?
posted by megatherium at 4:57 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Amazon Echo
3D printers such as the MakerBot
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:34 PM on September 13, 2015

These really hit home for me. This Christmas your kid can fly the fucking millennium falcon through the living room or control a droid that's basically a soccer ball with a levitating head. *HEAD ASPLODE*
posted by furtive at 8:06 PM on September 13, 2015

Maybe these don't count because they're not ubiquitous yet, but 3d printing feels like it is about to (or is in the process of) changing the world and the same goes for genome sequencing.

Computers, the Internet and smart phones still amaze me. Find out almost anything at anytime from most places in seconds from something the size of a pack of cards. Consume whatever media you want in seconds (books,music, movies,comics,etc.). It feels like science fiction.

Medical diagnostic tools. Look inside a person's body without cutting them open:mri, ct scans, sonograms. Then for surgery, making it as minimally invasive as possible with tiny scopes.

On a more mundane level: fleece, goretex, Velcro, aspirin, instant cold or hot packs, thermoses, super glue and duct tape!
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 10:42 PM on September 13, 2015

For me it's those bags of frozen veggies that steam in the microwave. "Take bag from cold box; place in warm box" with no intermediate step, that just screams future to me for some reason.
posted by bleep at 12:37 AM on September 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is pretty amazing
posted by bkeene12 at 5:35 AM on September 14, 2015

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is pretty magical. It's made out of melamine foam which is a pretty fancy industrial chemical product used for normal foam uses like sound insulation that someone figured out fairly recently that it could also clean stuff.

If you showed what it can do to someone from a few years ago, it would seem like black magic.
posted by smackfu at 8:13 AM on September 14, 2015

Dyson bladeless fans. That's some dark magic there.
posted by workerant at 3:31 PM on September 14, 2015

Best answer: I found a function for the aerogel, insulated water bottles.
posted by subsupra at 6:55 PM on September 14, 2015

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