50 years after the pilot of The Jetsons premiered on prime time TV and 50 years until 2062 when the series was set, we’re half way to the future Hanna-Barbera imagined. The first show to be broadcast in color on ABC, the Jetsons set a precedent that shaped several generations of children’s vision for what the future would look like.
We’re at least 50 years from living in towers that expand and retract into the sky above the clouds but the technology that fuels the futuristic family’s schedule at work and at home isn’t far off from many of the modern machines we rely on today.
Mr. Spacely trumped Donald Trump as a bombastic boss that coined the catch phrase, “You’re fired!” long before Celebrity Apprentice. Despite his demanding employer, George’s work routine resembles what a lot of people do every day, stare at a screen and push a bunch of buttons.
Many concepts from the show are programs people now use personally and professionally on a daily basis. Work conferences of the future via video calling are already happening today thanks to programs like Skype. News in the future is conveyed with a Televiewer in a layout that closely resembles online news outlets like CNN or Fox News. If Google had a grandfather it would be George’s computer RUDI, short for “Referential Universal Digital Indexer.”
Anyone who has had to fly knows that moving sidewalks are already used to help commuters and travelers trek across the airport to the tarmac. People and pets even exercise on treadmills much like Gorge and Astro would do for their evening walks. Despite George’s visual warning about the dangers of failing to watch your footing on a compact conveyer belt, YouTube is filled with video footage of epic treadmill fails that put his reoccurring pratfall to shame.
At home and at work, modern parents prepare meals much like Jane made for her family. We haven’t quite mastered the rehydration of an entire entree for capsule form but slide a tray into an electrical box, push a couple buttons and a few short minutes later dinner is done.
Jane’s job as a home-maker is made easier by technology we’ve already mastered, mainly the Roomba whose design isn’t too far off from that of the Jetsons’ self vacuuming robot. While nothing can compare to the anthropomorphic personality of Rosey the robot maid, robot companies are trying to complete a working concept.
A ReadyBots prototype “picks up toys, uses a special carpet rake tool to scrape up small items into plastic bins, moving sideways and diagonally as needed to reach tight spots. It stores the bins in a cabinet, closes the door, and then empties trash receptacles. "
Already on the market, Anybots are rolling robots that allow a boss to micro manage from anywhere. These electrical employers cost around $10,000 but could revolutionize telecommuting and accessibility options for disabled workers. In the wrong hands however it could become Uniblab, George’s robot supervisor and arch enemy.
After half a century of thinking how great it would be to have the luxuries that the Jetsons lived with, people are realizing the future is now. I just hope we don’t have to wait another 50 years for the machine that brushes your teeth, combs your hair, dresses you and pours the coffee as soon as the alarm goes off.