We went through the tons of products we've reviewed recently at CNET and grabbed a handful that were in the realm of science fiction movies not that long ago, starting with the Leap Motion, which CNET's Scott Stein (the lucky guy) got to get his hands on. Or above.
Way back in the Mesozoic era when I was a kid, I would crack wise during old sci-fi movies I watched with my dad, marveling at the "futuristic" technology on display in many of them. He would patiently explain to me that when many of these movies were made, the gadgets really were futuristic. I laughed it off, but as I grew up (or at least as I got older), I watched as things that I thought were futuristic in movies became mundane and even obsolete technology. Even in the otherwise future-tech-laden "Back to the Future Part II," my son asked why they were still using faxes instead of e-mail, and my daughter asked about those mysterious bundles of "giant DVDs" seen in an alleyway. Lest anyone think my 6-year-old is a 21st century digital girl, the one tech item she asks me for the most: a rotary telephone. Not even joking.
I went through the tons of products we've reviewed recently at CNET and grabbed a handful that were in the realm of science fiction movies not that long ago, starting with the Leap Motion, which CNET's Scott Stein (the lucky guy) got to get his hands on. Or above. As much as it pained me, that meant excluding things we've had stories about on CNET News, such as bionic eye implants, what is essentially a medical tricorder from "Star Trek," and our possible future robot overlords.
Disclosure: "Star Trek," which gets mentioned frequently in this gallery (I'm a longtime "Trek" geek), shares the same parent company with CNET.
"You mean you have to use your hands?"
"It's like a baby's toy!"
That was the reaction a time-traveling Marty McFly got from pair of kids in 2015 when showing off his skills at the video game Wild Gunman in "Back to the Future Part II." It was a funny joke when the movie came out in 1989, but to my kids, who have flailed around with their dad playing games with the Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360, it seems like a semivalid criticism.
Whereas just having computers smaller than a small office was once considered futuristic, you can't get away with any plain old input system anymore. In "Minority Report" and the "Iron Man" movies, among others, things as quaint as keyboards and mice have given way to virtual control systems.
The Leap Motion Controller is a step in that direction. The small sensor device creates a small area above your keyboard where you can use your hands to control things on your computer, skipping the touch-screen concept entirely. And while it may not replace your input devices of choice right now, I'm old enough to remember a time when I thought there was no way in hell I'd be using a mouse to control programs on my computer, so I'm curious to see how this technology evolves.
(Editors' note: When asked why this sentence was incomplete, Sparkman was found huddled over his Nexus 7 trying to beat level 124 of Candy Crush Saga.)