Science Fiction inspires modern innovation

I’ve often felt that many of todays taken-for-granted technologies were invented in 1970s science fiction novels. Now for the first time, I’ve come across an innovation that may have been first invented in a 1990s fantasy novel. In their book Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett describe a diabolical fast-food tycoon who creates CHOW – tasty food products with “the nutritional value of a Sony Walkman. It didn’t matter how much you ate, you lost weight”

Chef / inventor David Burke has created Flavor Spray Diet – a range of spray-on artificial food flavourings that contain zero calories, zero fat, zero cholesterol and zero carbohydrates. With recipe tips like Chocolate Flavor Spray on strawberries or pineapple or Tomato Basil Flavor Spray on crackers, this could be the answer to many a wannabe dieter’s dreams.

Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park describes the resurrection of long-extinct dinosaurs by scientists working with DNA from fossils.

Now, the US Agricultural Research Service has resurrected some of the extinct varieties of carrots. Carrots used to naturally occur in many colours including yellow, white, dark orange, bright red and even purple. Orange carrots captured the world market decades ago, but carrots of other colours contain pigments with distinct health benefits. The best part is they all taste the same!

From Communication Satellites (Arthur Clarke), to Clamshell Cellphones (Star Trek), to Virtual Reality (Neuromancer), many of the late 20th and early 21st century’s innovations have their origins in science fiction.

The lesson is clear: marketeers looking for new ideas should read lots of science fiction. 😉

PS – To illustrate the point from my previous post, I’ve renamed and re-posted this article! It used to be called “Fantasy foods come to life”


  1. […] 4. How long can it last? Until the 23rd Century. Even the failure of the most recent Star Trek movie – Nemesis – and the cancellation of Enterprise don’t spell the end for the franchise. A new upcoming movie and a fan-created series testify to the thriving equity of Star Trek. Even a couple of duds can’t keep it down so long as the franchise owners learn the lessons from previous incarnations and spin-offs. 5. What about all those hi-tech gadgets? Well, I’ve said before that science fiction is a big source of innovation and clam-shell cellphones have been mimicking Captain Kirk’s handheld Communicator for several years now. Here’s some more Trek Tech that scientists are actively working on: […]

  2. […] 10, 2007 at 6:15 pm · Filed under Innovation In the vein of previous articles on innovations spawned by science fiction and some specifically from the Star Trek TV series, here’s a quick roundup of the latest from […]

  3. sara said


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