Technology in Star Wars

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The space-opera blockbuster Star Wars franchise has borrowed many real-life scientific and technological concepts in its settings. In turn, Star Wars has depicted, inspired, and influenced several futuristic technologies, some of which are in existence and others under development. In the introduction of the Return of the Jedi novelization, George Lucas wrote: "Star Wars is also very much concerned with the tension between humanity and technology, an issue which, for me, dates back even to my first films. In Jedi, the theme remains the same, as the simplest of natural forces brought down the seemingly invincible weapons of the evil Empire."

While many of these technologies are in existence and in use today, they are not nearly as complex as seen in Star Wars. Some of these technologies are not considered possible at present. Nevertheless, many of the technologies depicted by Star Wars parallel modern real-life technologies and concepts, though some have significant differences.


A modern brain-controlled prosthetic hand and arm co-developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory and the Federal Drug Administration.

In Star Wars, prosthetics are first seen on film towards the end of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The prosthetic limbs seen in the films bear an almost absolute resemblance to natural limbs, in terms of size, shape, and movement. The only distinction is the material that the prosthetic limbs are made of, which differs greatly from the organic material of the natural limbs and other organs that the prosthetic limbs replace. Such precision is not considered possible by current technological means. However, according to recent research and development conducted at the Case Western University, which produced prosthetic limbs similar to the ones seen in Star Wars, the ability for prosthetics to produce feeling has become closer to reality.[1]

A similar production, even closer to natural organic limbs, known as the DEKA Arm System and dubbed "The Luke", after Luke Skywalker's prosthetic arm, was approved for mass production by the US Food and Drug Administration after eight years of testing and development.[2]

More recently, scientists have begun to develop artificial skin jackets to cover prosthetic limbs, creating an effect similar to what is seen in the Star Wars films.[3]

Solar power technology[edit]

The Imperial TIE Fighter (left) using the same concept of solar-based energy for ion propulsion as NASA craft Deep Space 1 (right) by the use of solar panels.[4]

Solar power technology is not too commonly seen in the Star Wars universe, used mainly by the Imperial TIE fighter (acronym for Twin Ion Engine).[5][6] A distinct feature of TIE fighters is that, despite their short range, their two solar panels provide large scales of propulsive energy, as well as powering laser cannons. Similar types of space vehicles, known as TIE Bombers, also use solar array wings.[7] TIE Bombers do not perform spatial aerobatics, like TIE Fighters do, but are instead used to drop explosives onto ground targets.

An electron transfer experiment conducted by scientists in 2005 involved a supramolecular TIE fighter ship design. It is unclear whether the experiment managed to achieve the desired results or not.[8]

The starship which Count Dooku escapes in near the end of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones launches and extends a solar power "sail", according to George Lucas in the director's commentary in the DVD edition of the film. The sail, which appears to be made of semi-transparent plasma, forms into shape and acts as a power source by absorbing sunlight and generating propulsion when the spaceship it is attached to launches. Lucas does not elaborate much on how this "sail" works, how it functions, or any of its technical specifications.


Star Wars depicts robotics which resembles current robotics technology, though at a much more advanced and developed level.[9] Robotics in Star Wars are generally divided into two categories, as in modern reality: military and civil.


Agricultural barrel-shaped robots such as the Greenlive Lely Juno play important roles in assisting humans with labor chores (in this case farming) similar to the civilian robots seen in Star Wars.[10]

Some robots in the Star Wars universe are capable of performing multiple types of tasks, while others can only perform one type of task. For example, 21-B is built for the sole purpose of performing medical tasks. Others, such as humanoid protocol droids like C-3PO, are built for multiple purposes. These range from basic physical chores to translating between different forms of communication, including with sophisticated computers and other forms of artificial intelligence.[11] Other, barrel-shaped robots, such as R2-D2, are built with multiple features and capabilities. These include repairing and programming advanced devices, as well as maintaining them.

The basic concepts and purposes for robotics in Star Wars, as in real life, are to reduce human labor, assist humans with sophisticated requirements, as well as store and manage complex information. Another parallel to the modern world is the use of robots in Star Wars for tasks not considered safe or acceptable for humans. Robots are also seen as a source of cutting human labor costs.[10]

The Japanese radio control manufacturer Nikko developed a toy robot version of R2-D2, with more limited abilities than the R2-D2 has in the Star Wars films. The toy can respond to a small number of verbal commands. Most of the robot's operations must be done manually, due to its limited abilities.[12][13] A related development is the creation of the droid BB-8 for the film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (made by different manufacturers). In the film, BB-8 is a semi-automated robot, operated by remote control, unlike C-3PO (played by Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (played by Kenny Baker), who were portrayed by actual actors. The BB-8 toy is operated by remote control[14][15], but it also has some independent features, and shares its manner of movement and other features with the film's BB-8.[16]

In 2010, NASA developed robots inspired by the hovering remote-controlled droids, seen in the Star Wars films and other media, and used by the Jedi for lightsaber combat training. These robots were used in NASA space stations for experimentation.[17] Also in 2010, a hacker developed similar robots, but only capable of floating beyond a limited magnetic range.[18]


Front view illustration of an Atlas robot developed by Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google) in co-operation with an agency of the United States Department of Defense.

Military robots in the Star Wars universe are built on the same principles as modern military robotics. While most military robots in the modern world are designed in various shapes, depending on their purpose, the military robots of the Star Wars universe are primarily humanoid, and built to imitate live, organic soldiers, mainly human ones.

A major similarity between modern military robotics and those of the Star Wars universe is that different robots are built and designed for different specific purposes, whether those purposes are ground warfare, maritime warfare, aerial warfare, or space warfare, as seen in the Star Wars prequel films. Such uses are considered unpractical and unfeasible by current means, given the sophistication and resources each individual unit would require.

Another significant, recognizable distinction of the robots in the Star Wars universe, whether military or civilian, is their strong sense of independence and self-awareness, compared to current robots. This is mainly due to Star Wars robots having much more advanced sensors and self-computing systems than current robots do. Despite the limited abilities of current robots, Dr. Jonathan Roberts, director of CSTRO Autonomous Systems Laboratory, proclaims that the role of robots in assisting humans is going to increase, similarly to what is seen in Star Wars.[19]

The Christian Science Monitor reported in 2011 that an American blogger, out of patriotism, tried to raise money to build a robotic AT-AT for the US military. Heikko Hoffman, a robotics expert from HRL Laboratories, who was not associated with the project, claims that AT-ATs are possible, though some of their designs should be changed from those seen in the Star Wars universe, for safety, and for financial and operational costs. The project, though not terminated, was suspended, due to copyright concerns from Lucasfilms.[20]

In 2012, the United States Navy built a robot modeled after C-3PO, but appears to function for both military and civilian purposes.[21][22]


External video
Is This a Real Life Star Wars Laser? – IGN News

The use of laser technology in Star Wars is almost entirely in the form of weapons, though there are some side-story books written that mention the use of laser cannon vehicles for the purpose of burning/melting through ice and snow such as the fifth book in the Jedi Prince series, Queen of the Empire (though technically not part of the Star Wars canon). The laser weapons in Star Wars use the same principle concepts of a laser being a light source. Light sources produce light in a series of waves. The waves spread in all directions, unless controlled. Controlling or containing the direction of light energy is also known as synchronization. This concentration of energy in one direction gives it strong and sometimes powerful intensity.[23] Lasers have different uses for military purposes, many of which strongly differ from what is seen in Star Wars, but still follow the same concepts of concentrating energy and/or material within a limited magnetic range.[24]

When used on a larger scale on mounted guns of starships such as the Millennium Falcon, they need to be charged up prior to use for battle.[25]

A major difference is that until recently, current laser technology did not emit lasers in separate bolts, but single rays; whereas Star Wars depicts both. Additionally Rhett Allai, associate professor of physics at Southeastern Louisiana University, argues the energy bolts fail to fit the definition of laser and explains that in many ways the laser cannons in Star Wars actually defy the rules of physics.[26]

Researchers in Poland in partnership with the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, however claimed to have developed lasers in bolted form and caught on camera. The professionals claimed that the lasers were so powerful and intense, resulting in them being ionized. The interaction of the pulse with the plasma generates light of many different wavelengths.[27][28][29]

The American Air Force Research Laboratory is currently working on long term developments of aerial laser weapons. Their aim is to make fighter aircraft laser capable by the year 2030. The laser cannons use the same concept of ion-based technology as seen in Star Wars.[30][31]

The United States Navy has begun to induct laser weapons in its fleet since late 2014. The weapons will be used for both sea-to-air and sea-to-sea purposes.[32][better source needed]

Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems claimed in 2014 that it is close to developing laser shields named Iron Beam, which company spokesman compares by similarity to the lasers of Star Wars. The company claims that Iron Beam can deflect drones, missiles, rockets and mortars.[33][34]

In a similar development, Chinese scientists produced laser guns that can disable the sensors of missiles, satellites and other sensor equipped devices. The guns are expected to be used by the Chinese military in future warfare and have been compared to Star Wars laser guns.[35]

A 1995 paper by Richard E. Russo from National Laboratory in Berkley, California, discusses the functions of lasers and mildly argues the Star Wars depiction of lasers as accurate.[36]

A more recent and advanced development in 2017 involved students at Macquarie University in Australia developed a method of multiplying laser power by the use of diamonds. This concept is similar to the fictional kyber crystals used in the Star Wars universe to power up laser weapons from smaller scale weapons (e.g. blasters, lightsabers) to super-scale intensity in the case of the Death Star. The Death Star's laser power works in a similar method to this by concentrating multiple light beams into one spot from where they combine into a single beam. This beam has been described as more powerful than usual because it can be used for the purpose of destroying/damaging solid objects such as drones and debris that it was compared to the lasers used by the Death Star.[37]

Interstellar travel[edit]

In Star Wars, the hyperdrive allows spaceships to travel between stars by transporting them into another dimension, known as hyperspace, in which objects with mass are capable of traveling faster than the speed of light. Although empty, hyperspace is permeated by "mass shadows" of objects in realspace. Any object in hyperspace colliding with one of these mass shadows is destroyed, so in order to navigate safely, starships must utilize Hyperspace lanes, such as the Corellian Trade Spine. These lanes are devoid of realspace mass shadows, enabling long distance travel along them.[38][39]

Rockets and missiles[edit]

A replica of Boba Fett's outfit, which also includes a small seeker missile mounted on his jet pack.

The usage of rockets and missiles is mentioned frequently throughout the Star Wars canon, including comics, novels, and, more recently, in films. Rockets and missiles were first seen on film in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, launched by Jango Fett in a number of failed attempts to target Obi-Wan Kenobi. Hand held rocket launchers are also a norm in the Star Wars universe as first seen on film in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The rockets in Star Wars use the same technological concepts as in modern times, also launched as rocket propelled grenades.[40]

Missiles, also known as ordinance rockets, carry with them their own kind of propellant fuel, with many also equipped with guidance systems to pursue targets, using the necessary means to maneuver around objects. Some concussion missiles launched from star ships also detonate in outer space, and send shock waves as a result of decompression.[40]

Missiles in Star Wars also come in different types, as in reality, though not all types may have a real-life equivalent. These include cluster missiles (a sub-type of the concussion missile), cruise missiles, discord missiles, hex missiles, intruder missiles, and nano missiles. The most prominently featured starship missiles are proton torpedoes, as seen on starfighters throughout the Star Wars films and other media. One example is the X-wing fighter, where missiles consist of a physical warhead, surrounded by a protective energy envelope, which protects the warhead from collision with debris mid-flight. In the Star Wars universe, proton warheads are known for their ability to inflict heavy damage to both starfighters and capital ships.[41]

Force fields[edit]

External video
Shields Up! The Physics of Star Wars Leicester University

The use of force fields in the Star Wars universe is documented both in the main films of the Star Wars saga and in spin-off media, such as The Clone Wars, as well as other media adaptations. The usage of force fields in Star Wars serve different purposes, one main purpose being to deflect strikes by lasers, explosions, and similar attacks. Some examples of these in Star Wars films are the mention of force-field-based deflector shields on the Millennium Falcon and Imperial Star Destroyer, and, on a grand, semi-planetary scale, on the second Death Star in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Spherical energy shields were first seen on film within atmospheric conditions in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. A main, distinguishing feature of one of the energy shields used in the Star Wars prequel trilogy is their ability to deflect energy bolts on their external side, while allowing lasers to pass through their internal side. These are seen on Droidekas, which were also introduced in The Phantom Menace. Such energy shields may use either a vector or a tensor effect.[42]

Spherical energy shields, such as deflector shields, provide many types of protection when in outer space. These include protection from space debris and protection of atmospheric conditions from outer space vacuum, both seen on larger spacecraft and the second Death Star.[43][44]

Another main purpose that force fields fulfill is levitation, allowing certain objects and vehicles to stand in the air and move without being obstructed by hazards on the surface. These are seen on Landspeeders,[45] speeder bikes, and Jabba the Hutt's sail barge.[46] All these vehicles use gravitational repulsion coils that generate force fields to produce levitation.

Other force fields, in the form of large or small scale deflector shields, are particle deflector shields, also known as "magnetic shields".[43]

In 2015, the American megacorporation Boeing built plasma-based force fields, similar in size and dimensions to the force fields used in Star Wars ground battles. Like the ground force fields in the Star Wars films, these shields cannot block or repel solid matter, but are instead built to protect vehicles from the force of explosions.[47][48][49][50]

In 2014, physics students at the University of Leicester developed a module of plasma-based deflector shields, inspired by the ones in Star Wars and other science fiction stories. However, the field poses some issues. One issue is that the deflector shield would have to be much stronger to repel than to hold the plasma in position. Another is that the shield would deflect electromagnetic energy, including light. This would make it impossible for someone inside the shield to see anything.[51][52]


Cloning and genetic engineering[edit]

A fan cosplay of a clone trooper at the 2015 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo. The clone troopers are derived from the DNA of their original host, Jango Fett.

Star Wars also depicts the practice of cloning and genetic engineering, though far more advanced and sophisticated than modern scientific and technological standards. Cloning in Star Wars was first mentioned in the original 1977 Star Wars film (A New Hope) and its novelization. It was first seen on film in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002).

There are major differences between the current ability to clone humans and those seen in Star Wars. Current human cloning methods need to use the somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which requires an unfertilized egg from a female donor to its nucleus removed, resulting in an enucleated egg. DNA from the subject being cloned would need to be extracted and electronically fused together with the enucleated egg. A surrogate mother needs to be impregnated with the embryos to give birth to the clone.[53]

Cloning in Star Wars does not seem to use this process, and instead depicts advanced machinery that directly processes the human subject's DNA, and produces the clone or clones, by the thousands, if desired. The clones in Star Wars can also be genetically altered during their pre-birth phase to have their growth hormones and learning abilities accelerated, as well as their independence and self-consciousness restricted.[40]

According to Jeanne Cavelos, a science-fiction writer and former NASA astrophysicist, who is also author of the book The Science of Star Wars, all of this is future possibility with the progress of science and technology. What is not possible according to her is the ability to accelerate either the growth of clones, or their ability to learn faster.[54]


Submersion in a liquid called bacta causes mutilated flesh to regenerate in the Star Wars universe. According to an in-universe reference book, bacta is a red-hued chemical compound; it must be mixed with a synthetic liquid which mimics bodily fluids. The combined bacterial medium regenerates traumatized flesh and promotes tissue growth.[55] Luke Skywalker was first seen using a bacta tank in The Empire Strikes Back; his father Darth Vader has a similar tank in Rogue One.[56] Clone troopers also use such healing technology in The Clone Wars.[57]


A fanmade replica costume of General Grievous, whose entire body is mechanical

According to Webster's dictionary, cybernetics is defined as: "the science of communication and control theory that is concerned especially with the comparative study of automatic control systems (as the nervous system and brain and mechanical-electrical communication systems)".[58]

Cybernetics are used to replace organic body parts at a deeper and more complex level than prosthetics. Prosthetics are still connected to nervous systems through organic tissue, and still rely on nervous systems for functioning. Cybernetics, however, replace entire nervous systems as well as damaged tissue, internal organs, and other body parts that can no longer be used for an organic being to function properly.

The use of cybernetics in Star Wars is documented by much of the Star Wars media, including novels, comics, and television series. It is used by characters for both enhancements and replacements for damaged or destroyed body parts. In the films, it is most recognizably used on two major characters: General Grievous and Darth Vader, both whom are cyborgs. Its applications are also first seen on film in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

Darth Vader, previously Anakin Skywalker, lost one of his limbs starting in the Clone Wars, and later, towards the end of the Clone Wars, lost most of his limbs after a deadly lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Shortly after the duel, he was caught in the heat range of molten lava, resulting in the burning and melting of much of his flesh and tissue.[59]

Vader lost many of his nervous and sensory systems, most of which were replaced by prosthetics, bionics, and, later, cybernetics. Besides having cybernetic limbs, Vader wore a suit equipped with cybernetic systems, both to help him function, and to protect his damaged body from exposure. His belt included high and low range audio sensors. The belt also included respiratory and temperature regulation adjustment controls. Vader's neural functions were also regulated by neuro sensors, located towards the back of his helmet. Additionally, to help him see, breathe, and maintain cognition, Vader's helmet was equipped with enhanced visual sensors, body heat vents, and neural function sensors.[60]

Vader's internal oxygen, blood, and nutrient flows, as well as nervous systems, were regulated by the control plate on his chest. His muscular system was enhanced by a neuro-electrical nervous pulse system in his cybernetic suit, giving him amplified physical strength. Scientists and scientific commentators have suggested that Vader lost his lungs by inhaling air in extreme temperatures within the heat range of lava on the planet Mustafar, causing damage to his lung tissue. This would require the need for a filter mask to take in more purified oxygen, as well as replacement lungs, most of which are possible by modern scientific and technological means.[4]

A peer reviewed journal by two Danish physicians concluded that Darth Vader's suit acts as a wearable hyperbaric chamber, which supports his supposedly chronically injured lungs. It also protects his damaged and vulnerable skin from infection.[61] In a study on the breakdown of Vader's breathing habits, one of the two physicians concluded that the suit would not be their top preference, but rather that lung transplantation would be a better choice.[62]

General Grievous's body is almost entirely cybernetic. Animation director Rob Coleman explained that Grievous was made with technological flaws, and experienced difficulties such as poor maneuverability and coughing, the latter caused by his lungs constantly filling with liquid. His mechanical body did, however, give him advantages in combat, due to being made of solid material, instead of organic bones and limbs.[4]

Grievous's organic body being destroyed in conflict left him with only a brain, eyes, and internal organs, which scientists placed in a constructed cybernetic body. Anatomy and neurobiology professor James H. Fallon of the University of California explains that one problem with this type of cybernetic body is the lack of knowledge in brain circuitry coding, which has yet to be decrypted. Fallon argues that most prosthetic and cybernetic technology in Star Wars is still plausible with continuous research and development in the relevant fields.[4]

Levitation technology[edit]

Although the Malloy hoverbike may appear very similar to a Star Wars hoverbike in terms of size, shape and performance, its input and levitation is by air propulsion with the use of turbofans as opposed to a Star Wars hoverbike which uses anti-gravity "repulsorlift" engines.[63]

Levitation is depicted throughout the Star Wars films, as well as in most other spin-off media of the franchise. Levitation in Star Wars is caused by many different methods. For example, the escape pod used by Jedi Master Yoda during Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith uses the same concept of rocket propelled levitation that many other Star Wars ships and surface vehicles do. This method is currently used on Earth, whenever humans and probes are sent into outer space.

Rockets used for levitation run on solid or liquid based fuel. They function on Newton's Third Law of action and reaction.[64] In Star Wars, rockets, as well as many starships, use the same function of levitation to enter flight and to escape a planet's (or moon or asteroid's) gravity and eventually enter outer space. Some of these ships also use rockets to slow down their landings on the surface, as well as reducing their weight until they touch the ground. Doing so allows them to land at a slow and safe horizontal speed.

Other starships in Star Wars use gravity repulsion coils to lift off the surface and depart from their point of origin.[citation needed] Gravity repulsion is also common in planet-based vehicles in Star Wars, such as Luke Skywalker's landspeeder, Jabba the Hutt's sail barge, snowspeeders, and hover bikes.[65] The carbonite freezing coffin that kept Han Solo in suspension was suspended in midair using a gravity repulsion force field.[66][67] Many droids and robots also use this technology to stay above the surface, such as the Imperial Probe Droid, which maneuvers itself with force field levitation, produced by devices on its body called "repulsorlifts".[68]

Levitation by these methods already exists in modern times, but with fundamental differences from Star Wars, despite having the same output. An example of vehicles that maintain constant levitation without the use of constant propulsion is the Maglev train. The Maglev train stays afloat by using the magnetic repulsion of like charges, but relies on the surface that it travels above, in its case, the train tracks, to have the same charge as its own coils, resulting in a magnetic repulsion.[69]

Many surface levitation vehicles and droids in Star Wars, however, do not rely on their surfaces to co-produce any such magnetic charges. Instead, their coils provide them with levitation by directly repulsing the gravity of the surface of the planet/moon/asteroid/starship they are on. Such levitation is currently considered a physical impossibility by today's means. Despite being a current scientific impossibility, research on such concepts are still being hypothesized and exercised by scientists today, with occasional minor breakthroughs.[70][71][72]

One possibility for magnetic levitation as seen in Star Wars is suggested by physics associate professor Micheal Denin. According to him, if a planet was made out of the right magnetic materials, such as iron or nickel, the vehicle could then produce a repulsive charge, allowing it to lift above the surface.[4]

In 2010, Australian inventor and engineer Chris Malloy constructed a hoverbike that uses turbofans to enter flight. It is claimed to fly up to 10,000 feet and fly at a horizontal speed of 173 miles an hour.[73] The hoverbike has been repeatedly compared to the hoverbikes seen in the Star Wars films.[74][75] It is unclear, however, whether these hoverbikes were actually inspired by Star Wars or not. Another fundamental difference, besides their power sources, is that the hoverbikes in Star Wars can only climb a few meters above the ground, unlike the current ones being developed.[40][76] Malloy's company, Malloy Aeronotics, is reported to have partnered with an American-based company for further experimenting, as well as developing Malloy's hoverbikes for the US military.[77][78]

The DailyMail compared the US Army to Imperial stormtroopers when speculating future possibilities of the American armed forces using these bikes, though it is still not clarified whether these bikes were inspired by Star Wars or not.[79]

Other explosive devices (non-propelled/non-laser)[edit]

Hand-held explosives, ignited using switches, are commonly seen and mentioned in the Star Wars saga, as well as the expanded universe. Most, if not all of these devices, have real-life counterparts, despite their distinct designs. The thermal detonator is an example of a device seen in Return of the Jedi that can be charged and its trigger held. The release of the trigger would cause it to explode, destroying anything and anyone near it, as well as the person holding it.[80] Bombs such as those are used by militant groups and military organizations to prevent nearby enemies from shooting them on sight, fearing they would also be dead in the explosion.

Another example is the timed explosives used in Return of the Jedi to destroy the generator projecting a defense energy shield around the Death Star. The explosion can be amplified by adding additional charges into the desired target of the explosion.[76] Such devices are used in the modern world primarily for demolition, but usually timed devices are not used. Instead, the explosives are placed on the target by demolitions and connected by wiring to the detonator.

The use of space mines in Star Wars is first seen on film in Attack of the Clones, where Jango Fett deploys space mines in an attempt to destroy Obi-Wan Kenobi and prevent him from pursuing him.[40]

In Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, similar explosives were used to disable the shields of the Starkiller base. These, however, were all connected to a single detonator, which caused them to explode simultaneously when triggered.

Tractor beams[edit]

A tractor beam is described as an invisible energy field that can grab, trap, suspend, and move objects with force. Tractor beams in Star Wars were first seen in film in A New Hope. They are used for the primary purpose of trapping and/or seizing enemy spacecraft. It is commonly used by The Empire on both their Super Star Destroyers and their two Death Stars for such purposes.

Scientists have explored the concept of tractor beams, having some success since the early 2010s. In that time, they have managed to produce lasers with unusual intensity-beam profiles that allow them to attract and repel tiny particles. Some breakthroughs include the successful project of a team of science researchers from the Australian National University, who managed to produce a doughnut shaped laser that can drag hollow glass spheres by a distance of roughly 7.8 inches, several times the distance of previous experiments.[81]

Another successful experiment was conducted at the University of Bristol, which revealed that sound could be manipulated to produce possible future tractor beams, rivaling light. This could be done using a precisely timed sequence of sound waves, produced by tiny loudspeakers, creating a limited space with low pressure that can counteract gravity and levitate objects.[81]

Radios and other communications devices[edit]

In Star Wars, a subspace transceiver, also known as a subspace comm, subspace radio, and hypertransceiver, was a standard device used for instantaneous, faster-than-light communications between nearby systems. Similar to its shorter-ranged cousin, the comlink, the subspace transceiver relied on energy to broadcast signals. Starships carried these units to broadcast distress signals and other important messages. They used subspace as the communications medium. The subspace transceiver of an Imperial Star Destroyer had a range of 100 light-years.[41]

Devices for shorter-range communications, such as the comlink, can be either hand-held (as seen in A New Hope) or strapped to the wrist (as seen in The Empire Strikes Back, during the early scenes on the planet Hoth). These devices can also be tuned with encryption algorithms for private communication.[82]

Most humanoid droids, such as C-3PO, communicate long distances using these comlinks. Other droids, such as R2-D2 and Imperial Probe Droids, use antennas to transmit/receive messages and signals for longer range communications.[68]

Devices for long-range communications within a planet are connected by satellites orbiting the planet.[41]

Carbonite freezing[edit]

Carbonite freezing in Star Wars is first seen on film in The Empire Strikes Back and also equally mentioned in its novelization, where Darth Vader and The Empire place Han Solo in a carbonite casing. Its usage and reverse is also seen in The Empire Strike's Back and its sequel, Return of the Jedi.

Carbonite freezing is based on the concept of cryonics, which involves freezing a living organism to keep it in suspended animation. The technology is still being researched and developed by scientists into a more sophisticated form. Carbonite exists in real life as a type of gunpowder. According to professor James H. Fallon, the carbonite used in Star Wars might be a "dry ice" with an opposite charge. He further speculates that it is a form of carbon dioxide mineral, which, like in cryonics, is kept at very low temperatures, to the point that there is no need for oxygen or blood-flow. This could keep living organisms and living tissue in suspended animation. While the freezing process as depicted in the films is realistic, reversing the same process by heating, he argues, is more challenging, and can be dangerous if heated too fast. He also argues that this process, as depicted in the film, is a scientific, physical challenge.[4]

Computers and other artificial intelligence[edit]

Aside from droids/robots, the use of artificial intelligence is found very commonly in the Star Wars universe. Computers exist in many different forms in both the Star Wars movies and the Star Wars expanded universe, including both canonical and non-canonical stories from personal computers. These range from computerized notebooks to bigger, more sophisticated computers. Such computers are used to perform very complex tasks, such as the "navcomputer" on many spaceships. This computer autopilots spaceships from one part of the galaxy to another.

One commonality of artificially intelligent machinery in Star Wars, as in real life, is its requirement to be pre-programmed and loaded with data. This is to allow it to assess and analyze information during construction, repair, and upgrading. Artificially intelligent machinery can also be manually programmed to be able to function in the desired manner.[citation needed] This is true whether the intelligent machines are robots, computers, or any other types of intelligent machines.

All forms of artificial intelligence in Star Wars, like in the modern world, have many purposes. Many of these require manual operation and/or programming. In Star Wars, this is sometimes achieved with the help of an appropriate droid. For example, a scene in The Empire Strikes Back shows Han Solo ordering Chewbacca to shut down the Millennium Falcon, possibly to reboot the ship's entire system. When C-3PO questions whether that includes shutting him down as well, Han replies "no", because he needs C-3PO to communicate with the ship's computer.[83] This is possibly due to Han knowing that C-3PO is a protocol droid who is able to communicate with computers and other machinery in their specific language.

Another example of multi-purpose artificial intelligence is seen in moisture vaporators, devices that produce water from hydrogen and oxygen in the air. These are first mentioned on film in A New Hope. Their artificial intelligence is more basic than most other forms of artificial intelligence seen in the Star Wars universe, dealing with input from humidity and air density sensors.[84] They use this input to help them take samples from the air and produce water. They also require input from robots. The film also shows Owen Lars, Luke's uncle, telling C-3PO that he needs a droid that can really understand the language of moisture vaporators, with the droid claiming that it's in his programming.[25]

A report analyzing the Empire's cyber security systems used in Rogue One, in which IT experts were consulted, made a few conclusions. One claim by information systems management professor Hsinchun Chen was that the theft of digital architectural designs are a common phenomenon in real life. He concludes that software breaches should not just be resisted, as in the case of Star Wars, but successfully prevented by taking security measures far prior to any attempted attacks.[85]


A 3D graphic illustration of a Star Wars style hologram.

Holography in Star Wars was first seen on film in the fourth film of the saga Episode IV: A New Hope. Holographs were used for various purposes, mainly communication. At the time of the release of the original Star Wars films, holographic technology in 3D format, as seen in the films, was not available. However, according to MailOnline, recent technological breakthroughs have made 3D holograms a possibility. MailOnline goes to further state that 3D holographics, as seen in the original Star Wars films, could be built for less than £350 British pounds.[86]

Neowin reports that research conducted by Microsoft has brought about the creation of 3D holographic technology. The technology is intended be used for various purposes, such as plotting data on maps.[87]

ExtremeTech reports that smartphones created at HP labs are now bringing 3D holographic technology from Star Wars closer to reality.[88]

More recently, Fox News reported that Australian National University students were close to developing Star Wars-style holograms. A researcher for the project said that the material the device consists of will be transparent and used in a wide range of applications, as well as “complex manipulations with light.”.[89]

Artificial moons and planets[edit]

The Death Star and many other very large spacecraft or artificial moonlets exist. Macroengineering is available on vast scales.

Body armour[edit]

Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, April 2015. Fans dressed as Boba Fett and a typical Mandalorian. These fictional body armors have been semi-replicated by scientists for military purposes.

Body armour is seen throughout the Star Wars anthology films and their first cinematic spin-off film, Rogue One. Their main purpose is to protect the wearer from attacks and other hazards as in ancient and current times on Earth. They are most commonly seen on Imperial stormtroopers, clone troopers, snowtroopers, bounty hunters and as of Rogue One, death troopers as well. According to Star Wars lore, amongst the characters in that universe to use them were ancient Mandalorian warriors. Additionally to stormtroopers and bounty hunter, they were worn by law enforcement personnel including guards and senior officers, both prior and after the rise of the Galactic Empire.

Major character and bounty hunter, Boba Fett, wore modified body armor fitted with various gadgets like his predecessor, Jango Fett. The armor was for multi-purpose tactical abilities. Another major character and cyborg, Darth Vader wore it to protect his own burned and mutilated body as detailed in Revenge of the Sith and other Star Wars media outside the films.[which?]

Such type of armor has slowly begun to become a scientific reality. In 2016, ballistic and body armor company, AR500, in collaboration with Heckler & Koch produced body armor modelled after the iconic villain, Boba Fett.[90][91][92]

Other technologies[edit]

Aside from major technologies, the Star Wars universe also includes technologies that play less important roles with respect to the plot of the stories.


Macrobinoculars on display at Star Wars Launch Bay

Macrobinoculars are hand-held devices that function like binoculars, with the purpose of giving the user the ability to see vast distances. It was first seen on film in A New Hope and mentioned in its novelization. The websites reports that Sony has developed macrobinoculars comparable to the ones seen in Star Wars, known as DEVs, and produced in separate types of models. These give the user the ability to see great distances clearly and record their sightings.[93]

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External links[edit]