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Straight Out of the Movies: Real-Life Gadgets Inspired by Film

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In our age where life mimics art, you can be sure that each new gadget Hollywood dreams up will not remain a dream for very long. As technology catches up with imagination, the coolest devices move very quickly from the big screen into our own hands. Here is a selection of the best high-tech inventions from the movies that are now available to the viewing public.

James Bond's Jetpack

Thunderball famously sees James Bond fly to safety after an encounter with two armed gunmen. His jetpack, which weighs approximately 125 lb., was one-of-a-kind when the film was made in 1965, and only two people in the world knew how to operate it.

In 2009, over 40 years after Thunderball, German entrepreneur Hermann Ramke created his own version of the device. The pack uses not rockets, but high-pressured water jets fed by a pipe, which are capable of pushing a user 50 ft. into the air. Users can soar across the water for 200 miles before the pack needs to be recharged.

9 years in development, the 'JetLev-flyer' retails for £160,000. Ramke can only hope it ends up in the hands of wannabe Bonds, not Blofelds.

Michael Knight's Talking Car

When Knight Rider first hit television screens in the 1980s, kids across America dreamed of driving their own KITT, the talking Pontiac Trans-Am. Not only was KITT an artificially intelligent, super-cool crime-fighting sports car, but he was equipped with an array of gadgets including a smokescreen, powerful laser beams, flamethrowers and money dispenser (handy when Michael ran out of change for the pay-and-display car park!).

For nearly two decades, the idea of a talking car was just a dream. Then, at the turn of the Millennium, GPS navigation devices such as the TomTom Navigator provided drivers with their first talking travel companion (simultaneously annihilating mankind's ability to use a map) - even if the novelty of being told to 'turn around when possible' quickly wore off!

Now it seems that 80s adults are one step closer to seeing their childhood dreams come to life -Denso are developing what they call 'Talking Car' technology. The Japanese automobile suppliers, who were also the brains behind the now-ubiquitous QR code, are programming software that allows cars to send and receive 'wireless safety messages', which for example will alert a trailing vehicle when the lead driver slams on the brakes, or pass on information about road hazards spotted up ahead.

The messages, though voiceless for now, bring the dream of the talking car out of the realms of science fiction and in to the realms of science future. The technology will be rolled out in 2019. IT support specialists will have a job on their hands if MDs across the globe not only bring their laptops to them when they need assistance, but also their flash new cars!

Batman's Retinal Scanner

When the idea was dreamed up in the 1930s, retinal scanning seemed impossibly advanced. Filmmakers adopted the idea as a motif for top-level security. In the 1966 film, Batman's Batmobile has a portable retinal scanner which superhero and sidekick use to confirm the identity of the villainous Penguin.

In fact, retinal scanning as a means of identification has been around since the late 1970s. It works on the premise that every retina has a unique pattern formed of tiny blood vessels. It has the advantage over other methods of identification in that the retina is protected from external wear and tear, unlike fingerprints, and gives highly accurate results, though expensive and slightly awkward in application.

Retinal scanning today is used everywhere from the army to hospitals.

Iron Man's Robotic Arms

The Iron Man comics tell the ultimate story of brains conquering brawn. When billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark is shot in the chest by kidnappers, he builds a suit of armour that sustains his life - and endows him with kick-ass powers.

Stark was a boy genius and MIT graduate in electrical engineering and physics. His onscreen portrayal by Robert Downey Jr. was a box office smash, leading to a sequel and an upcoming third film recently announced.

His story has inspired other brainiacs: German chemist Patrick Priebe has built his own fully-functional laser gauntlet, a robotic arm that shoots beams capable of bursting rubber balloons.

After posting a working demonstration on YouTube, Liebe sold the gadget, which cost him almost 500 euros and 130 hours, for over 2000 euros to one of his fans.

Unlike his favourite playboy superhero, 32-year-old Liebe has had limited success with the ladies; it was only after being dumped that he found himself with the time on his hands to commit to his hobby.

In true Tony Stark style, however, his talent quickly earned him admiration of female fans. Building custom lasers is now Liebe's full-time job.

The Anti-Orwellian Privacy Visor (Take That, Big Brother)

George Orwell's terrifying vision of 1984 was a world of constant surveillance, governed by the thought-police. Writing in 1949, little could he have known that by the 21st Century there would be over 1.85 million CCTV cameras in Britain, a figure that led even the government to question whether things had got a little out of hand. And it's hardly necessary to mention a certain TV show modelled on the Orwellian concept of Big Brother.

With well over 100 million GB worth of user photos and videos live on Facebook, combined with the development of facial recognition technology by the likes of Google, it is understandable to have qualms over the digital cataloguing of your every smile, stumble and slur.

But the problem is far bigger than untagging your drunken photos: last year (2012), Facebook was forced to suspend its 'suggested tags' function after a review by the Irish data protection commissioner judged it just a little too creepy. Meanwhile, hidden cameras discovered in shop mannequins caused uproar.

One Japanese designer has found a solution to the problem by developing a 'privacy visor', a pair of infrared glasses designed to scramble images caught on hidden cameras without affecting the photo from a human perspective.

Certain cultures believe that cameras have the power to steal the soul of the person in the picture.

And people continue to vote for the contestants of Big Brother.

Perhaps they're right.

It seems fans simply can't bear to be without the gadgets of their onscreen heroes.