Science and engineering have always inspired writers, now science fiction inspires engineers

Raspberry Pi users aiming to bring sci-fi movie technology to life

Raspberry Pi, the £23 credit-card sized computer, has already firmly established itself in the hearts of the geek and tech community. Now it's aiming to bring certain cool science fiction technologies closer to reality.

One of the gadget’s distributors, Element 14, has selected 25 engineers from around the world who will attempt to create various devices - ranging from a robotic head advising on complicated matters, to an engineer’s robot helper, to an automatic dog trainer - as part of the Sci-Fi Your Pi competition.

The 25 competitors will have until September this year to build the real-life versions of their favourite science fiction gadgets using Raspberry Pi’s board B+ and A and a set of accessories including the PiFace Control & Display.

The panel of expert judges will select the winner, who will receive $500-worth of science fiction memorabilia. Element 14 said the judges will look not only for how closely the device resembles its fictional counterpart, but will also assess the innovative aspects of the design.

Each participant will document his or her progress in a blog on Element 14’s web site.

Pick your favourite idea

Rover Pi Protector by Brenda Armour

Inspired by the Alien movie, the small robot guided by GPS and a small inertial navigation system could patrol natural parks capturing videos of wildlife and look for telltale signs of the presence of poachers.

Steampunk Navigation Aid by Neil Bizzel

Inspired by the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, the device would allow an adventurer to see how to get to the destination required for his or her quest.

Intelligent Body Armour by Joe Carender

Inspired by combat video game Crysis, the high-tech apparel would be fitted with body and weather sensors and feature a wrist-mounted keyboard and a wireless head-up display. It’s aimed at airsoft war game players.

Advanced Dog Trainer by Vivien Chin

A device to deal with the problem of a barking dog (and the subsequently annoyed neighbours). Equipped with a sensitive sound-detector, the automatic trainer predicts situations that could prompt the dog to bark and dispenses food instead to redirect the pet’s attention. What if that alarming sound is a burglar breaking in? Inspired by the smart home of The Jetsons.

I Ching Hexagrams by Trevor Clarke

Inspired by the computer on Hagbard Celine's submarine from the Illuminatus Trilogy.

Escape from the Past by Eric Ellwanger

Takes advantage of the Raspberry Pi’s multiple serial ports to create a "serial master" and communication channel that can send data to a central base for analysis across a variety of engineering needs.

Training Hover Sphere by Ambrogio Galbusera

A hovering sphere that fires non-lethal laser beams for defensive combat training, inspired by Star Wars.

Cybernetic Computer Interface by Sebastian Groza

A borg-like computer interface, inspired by Star Wars.

Handheld Sensor Device by Michael Hahn

Inspired by Star Trek’s iconic tricorder, the device would combine a set of environmental sensors for monitoring of surrounding conditions in one neat handheld package.

Diplomatic Robot Head by Augusto Lisboa

The wise robot head inspired by Star War’s C-3PO robot capable of speech and text recognition will be able to advise on many difficult maters such as local laws.

Glove Computer & Control by Mark Loomis

Loosely inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek devices, the leather glove equipped with 3D printed computer parts could be used for controlling vehicles.

Empathy Box by Eric Lovejoy

A portable, networked device that connects anonymous people through shared warmth, inspired by the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Meditech by Enrico Miglino

Another Star Trek-inspired tricoreder-like device, this time for medical application.

KITT Car by Wilson Oberholzer

Allows turning a regular car into a super-vehicle from the popular Knight Ryder series, albeit with limited superpowers. The smart functions of the supercar will be integrated though a dashboard console controlling sound effects and visual cues inspired by the series.

Pizza Pi by Margot Paez

An Internet-connected pizza box that makes sure the pizza stays warm and keeps its shape during delivery. Inspired by sci-fi novel Snow Crash.

Visus Sancto by Cecil Perks

An IR camera mount and heads-up display that detects the presence of paranormal activity, inspired by Hellboy 2.

PipBoy Personal Helper by Arsenijs Picugins

A wrist-worn computer that provides health, travel and task management information, inspired by the videogame Fallout

PiBo by K.C. Rajeshis

A handy assistant for engineers and scientists. The wheeled robot inspired by the Flubber movie can provide audio and video information the researcher needs to progress with his work.

Real-Life Holographic Projector by Kenny Rasschaert

A Star Wars-inspired innovative video conferencing tool will project images onto transparent surfaces to give the conference call participants almost tangible presence.

Sci-Fi Advanced Controls by Shrenik Shikhare

This Iron Man-inspired project foresees a computer interface that responds to gesture controls.

Verbal and Physical Morality Monitor by Harsahib Singh

A Demolition Man inspired speech recognition program that detects and alerts users of abusive or offensive language in the home or workplace.

VIRUS by Inderpreet Singh

Another project drawing inspiration from the Iron man–envisioned gesture controlled technology, this time for controlling robots that can be transformed into central computers.

QuadCop by Joey Thompson

A low-cost, custom-build quadcopter that performs security screenings, inspired by the Terminator franchise.

Futuristic Desk by Frederick Vandenbosch

Envisions a touch and motion-controlled office desk that allows controlling lights or moving objects with simple hand gestures. Inspired by the Tron Legacy.

Robotic Assistant by Jeremy Walker

Another idea inspired by the smart household of The Jetsons, this robotic maid would take on the burden of every day chores.

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