7 Not So Future Tech Examples From Doctor Who


Doctor Who has been around longer than Star Trek, but most of the technologies that get focused upon as future tech come from the latter than the former. The fact is that there are some key technologies that are used in this long running science fiction show that have either been turned into a reality or are very close to becoming real.

Now Doctor Who might not offer warp travel, but it does offer trips through time and space in a vehicle that’s bigger on the inside. Here is a look at the best technologies of Doctor Who, all 13 incarnations, that have either become real or are very close to it.

#1. Sonic Screwdrivers

Sonic Screwdriver

The sonic screwdriver is the Good Doctor’s main go-to tool and for good reason. The sound waves produced by the screwdriver are able to loosen just about anything, open just about anything, and allow for a quick escape. Researchers have been able to use sound waves to levitate objects. We use sound waves for medical purposes already. It is even believed that sound waves could help to treat or cure some cancers one day. There’s no mention, however, of how effective a sonic screwdriver may be against the modern killer robot.

On the plus side, you can get a sonic screwdriver vape pen right now, so it’s not all bad if you live in a place where you can legally use it.

#2. Nanotech


On the streets of London, nanotech was released into the air and it could immediately close wounds. Some believe it is nanotech that ultimately kept John Barrowman alive through his episodes and the entire series of Torchwood. Researchers have already created robots that are so small that their width is only a few molecules. It is hoped that they can be programmed to do the same thing that the alien nanotech in Doctor Who could do – heal wounds. The greatest hope, however, is that they can fix or remove cancer cells in a non-invasive way.

#3. Daleks


Although fully autonomous killing machines haven’t entered the field of war as of yet, the technology is available to make this happen. All it would really take is for a motion sensor to be attached to a weapon to turn this into a reality. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has been formed to help create awareness of this future problem already so that the world’s superpowers will create treaties to prevent their own versions of the Terminator from appearing… or the Dalek.

Remember that the Dalek is really a super suit for a solider. Those exoskeleton suits are being created too.

#4. Beryllium


This is one of those technologies that Doctor Who predicted that does exist. You might have missed the 8th doctor – after all, his one made-for-TV movie basically involved him trying to find batteries for the TARDIS. Those were Beryllium batteries and he ended up stealing them from an atomic clock. We’ve actually got batteries made from Beryllium today and they’ve been in very precise quantum clocks for the last 4 years. That’s because it is important to know what time it is when there’s a Time Lord around…

There’s no truth to the rumor that Doctor Who went back to 1975 to file this patent on Beryllium batteries though.

#5. Terraforming


Carl Sagan first published a paper on terraforming in the 1960’s. His goal was to change the surface of Venus. Today’s scientists are looking at Mars as a viable terraforming project. Warm up the atmosphere with some extra carbon, add some trees for better oxygen, and POOF you’ve got a human colony. David Tennant got to use “The Source” before he was hunting down criminals in Broadchurch and Gracepoint and although we don’t have actual terraforming technology like The Source right now, it looks like we’re pretty close.

#6. Translation Spheres

Translation App

You don’t need to be a traveler through space and time to require a translator. Just going from one country to the next can change the official language that is spoken and leave you stumbling around with a dictionary or a Google translation app. The fact that we have such an app shows that we’ve made progress toward the translation spheres that appeared in Doctor Who. There’s also progress toward telepathic communication.

That’s right – and it’s not just between humans. Scientists have telepathically linked the mind of a rat with a mind of a human. No joke. Now we’ll just need a Google thought translation app so that someone thinking in English can understand someone thinking in Swahili.

#7. Psychic Papers

Psychic Paper

Even though Matt Smith’s Doctor Who didn’t really use the psychic papers much, they were a staple of Tennant’s episodes and they’ve been incorporated into Peter Capladi’s episodes as well. The concept is pretty simple: flash a paper, think a thought, and the person believes you’re carrying some form of ID. You can be a cop or you can be a mystery shopper or anything else that you need to be. Thanks to the power of suggestion and a little hypnosis, this is theoretically possible right now. You might not be able to flash a paper with psychic powers, but you could make someone believe that they are a dog. That’s got to have some value, right?

Although time travel, interstellar traffic jams, or the ability to create humans that are held together in a picture frame aren’t really in our near future, these technologies either are or could be soon. What Doctor Who technologies would you love to see become a reality?

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Graeme Sandlin
A theologian of the odd. I love all things tech, especially if there's a sci-fi element to it. You'll find something special I've created every day... and not just on the internet.