Technology in Star Wars

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The space opera blockbuster Star Wars has borrowed many real-life scientific and technological concepts in its settings. In return, Star Wars has depicted and also inspired/influenced several futuristic technologies in existence and under development. Author James Kahn in the introduction of his Return of the Jedi novelization 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 remained 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 even considered possible in modern times. Many of the technologies depicted by Star Wars parallel modern real-life technologies, despite being with significant differences, but still using the same concepts.


Luke Skywalker testing his new prosthetic replacement hand.
Main article: Prosthetics
See also: Bionics

Prosthetics were first seen in Star Wars in the fifth film of the saga (though produced second by date) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The technology seen in the films bears an almost absolute resemblance to natural limbs in terms of size, shape and movement as well as other body parts save for the distinctive material they are made of compared to the organic material of the natural limbs and other organs they replace. Such precision is not considered possible by current technological means, however the ability for prosthetics to produce feeling has become closer to reality according to recent research and development conducted at the Case Western University which produced prosthetic limbs similar to the ones seen in Star Wars.[1]

Another similar production even closer to natural organic limbs, known as the DEKA Arm System and dubbed as "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]

In more recent developments, scientists have begun to develop artificial skin jackets to cover prosthetic limbs, very 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]
Main article: Solar technology

Solar power technology is less commonly seen in the Star Wars universe such as on the Imperial TIE fighter (acronym for Twin Ion Engine).[5][6] A distinct feature is that while TIE fighters are short-ranged, their solar panels still provide large scales of energy in propulsion as well as laser cannons for a set of just two solar panels limited in size. Similar types of space vehicles known as the TIE Bomber, similar in design to the TIE Fighter, also use solar array wings.[7] TIE Bombers however don't perform spatial aerobatics as do TIE Fighters 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 not clear though if the experiment managed to fulfill the desired results or not.[8]

The starship showing Count Dooku escaping in near the ending 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 appears to be a plasma formed substance when launched or switched on, forming into shape and acting as a solar power source. Lucas does not further elaborate much on how this plasma based solar power source works or functions or any of its technical specifications.


Main article: Robotics

Star Wars beholds advanced robotics which parallels current robotics technology and more.[9] Robotics in Star Wars are generally divided into two categories, as in reality: military and civil.


Main articles: Robot and Droid (robot)
See also: SPHERES
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]

The robots in the Star Wars universe, whether military or civilian, are of multi-purpose and single-purpose types. For example, 21-B is built for the sole purpose of performing medical tasks, ranging from basic to advanced. Others, such as humanoid protocol droids like C-3PO are built for multiple purposes ranging from basic physical chores to translating between different languages and other forms of communication, including with sophisticated computers and other forms of artificial intelligence.[11]

Other non-humanoid barrel shaped robots such as R2-D2 are built with multi-purpose features and capabilities which 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 is to perform tasks to reduce human labor, assist humans with more sophisticated requirements as well as store and manage more complex data/information. Another parallel to the modern world is the use of robots in Star Wars for tasks and chores 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 but mostly with very distinct features and limited abilities than the 'real' R2-D2. It can also respond to a small and specific number of verbal commands. Most of the robot's operations must also be done manually due to its limited abilities.[12][13] In a related development but by different manufacturers is the creation of the new droid BB-8 for the film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The depiction of the new droid is by an actual semi-automated/independent robot instead of using actors such as the case of C-3PO (played by Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (played by Kenny Baker). The robot is instead operated by remote control; unlike previous robots used for the films which were entirely remote controlled or portrayed by actors,[14][15] but 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 droids seen in the Star Wars films and other media used by the Jedi for combat training with a lightsaber. These robots were used in NASA space stations for experimentation.[17] Another individual hacker also developed similar robots based on the same hovering Jedi training robots from Star Wars but with the ability to float only within a limited magnetic range.[18]


Front view illustration of an Atlas robot developed by Boston Dynamics (owned by Google) in co-operation with an agency of the United States Department of Defense.
Main articles: Military robot and Battle droid

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

A major similarity between modern Earth military robotics and that of the Star Wars universe is that different robots are built and designed for different specific purposes, whether 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 stronger sense of independence and self-awareness compared to the robots of the modern world. This is also mainly due to having much more advanced sensors and self-computing systems within them. Despite their current limited abilities, Dr Jonathan Roberts, director of CSTRO Autonomous Systems Laboratory proclaims that the role of robots in assisting humans is going to increase, similar 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 walker for the US military. Heikko Hoffman, a robotics expert from HRL Laboratories, but not associated with the project, claims that AT-ATs are possible, though some of its designs should be changed from those seen in the Star Wars universe for safety as well as 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 they claim was 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 are almost entirely in the form of weapons as seen in the movies, 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 non-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]

Interstellar transport[edit]

Interstellar transport in Star Wars is provided by hyperdrives. Hyperdrives transport the spaceship into which they are integrated in to another dimension, known as hyperspace, in which objects with mass are capable of traveling at above the speed of light. Although empty, hyperspace is permeated by "mass shadows" of objects in realspace. Any object in hyperspace colliding with ones 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.[37][38]

Rockets and missiles[edit]

A replica of Boba Fett's outfit, which also includes a small seeker missile mounted on his jet pack.
Main articles: Rockets, missiles, and Star Wars weapons
See also: Cluster bomb

The use of rockets and missiles is mentioned frequently throughout the Star Wars story canon including comics, novels and more recently on the films. It was 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. The rockets in Star Wars use the same technological concepts as in modern times, also launched as rocket propelled grenades.[39]

Missiles, also known as ordinance rockets, carry with them their own kind of propellant fuel and with many also equipped with guidance systems to pursue targets by using the necessary means to maneuver around. Some concussion missiles launched from star ships also detonate in outer space and send shock waves as a result of decompression.[39]

Missiles in Star Wars also come in different types, as in reality, though not all types may have a real-life equivalent. Some of these are: cluster missile (a sub-type of the concussion missile), cruise missile, discord missile, hex missile, intruder missile, and nano missile. The most prominently featured starship missiles are the proton torpedoes as seen on starfighters throughout the Star Wars films and other media such as on the X-wing fighter, which consist of a physical warhead surrounded by a protective energy envelope which protects the warhead from collisions 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.[40]

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 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 attacks by similar methods. Some examples of these on film are the mention of deflector (all force-field based) shields on the Millennium Falcon and Imperial Star Destroyer and on a grand semi-planetary scale seen 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 distinguishable 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 passing through lasers from their internal side as seen on the Droideka which was also introduced in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Such energy shields are possibly implied as vector or tensor effect and/or other possibilities.[41]

Spherical energy shields in outer space provide protections of many purposes such as deflector shields, including protection from space debris as seen on larger spacecraft and the second Death Star as well as protection of atmospheric conditions from outer space vacuum, also seen on larger star ships and the second Death Star.[42][43]

Another main purpose of force fields fulfill is levitation for certain objects and vehicles to stand in the air and move without being obstructed by hazards on the surface. Such are seen on Landspeeders,[44] Speeder bikes, and Jabba the Hutt's sail barge.[45] 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".[42]

In 2015 the American mega corporation Boeing built plasma-based force fields that are similar in size and dimension to the force fields in Star Wars used in 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.[46][47][48][49]

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. Among them is that the deflector shield would have to be much stronger to repel to hold the plasma in position. Another is the shield deflecting electromagnetic energy, including light leaving whoever being theoretically inside the shield unable to see.[50][51]

Biotechnology (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 compared to modern scientific and technological standards.

Cloning was first mentioned in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and its novelization. It was first seen on film in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Still, 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 and have 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.[52]

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.[39]

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 the growth of clones or their ability to learn faster.[53]


A fan made replica costume of General Grievous, whose entire body is mechanical.
Main article: Cybernetics

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)".[54]

Cybernetics are used to replace organic body parts to a more complex level as opposed to prosthetics, which are still connected to nervous systems through organic tissue and still rely on nervous systems for functioning. Cybernetics, however, replace entire nervous systems if necessary 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 is in Star Wars documented by much of the Star Wars media including novels, comics and television series, used by characters for both enhancements as well as replacing damaged or destroyed body parts. In the films it is most recognizable on two major characters: General Grievous and Darth Vader, both who are cyborgs. Its applications are also first seen on film (though mildly) 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 its end lost most of his limbs after a deadly lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Shortly after he was caught in the heat range of molten lava, resulting in the burning and melting of much of his flesh and tissue.[55]

Vader lost much of his nervous and sensory systems, most of which were replaced by prosthetics, bionics and later cybernetics. Alongside having cybernetic limbs, Vader wore a suit equipped with cybernetic systems to help him function and protect his damaged body to exposure. His belt included high and low range audio sensors. The belt also included a respiratory and temperature regulation adjustment controls. Vader's neural functions were also regulated by neurosensors located towards the back of his helmet. Additionally to help him see, breathe and maintain cognition, Vader's helmet was also equipped with enhanced visual sensors, body heat vents and neural function sensors.[56]

Vader's internal oxygen, blood and nutrient flows and nervous systems are regulated by the control plate on his chest. His muscular system is more enhanced by a neuro-electrical nervous pulse system in his cybernetic suit, giving him amplified physical strength. Scientists and scientific commentators have also suggested that Vader lost his lungs by inhaling air in extreme temperatures within the heat range of the lava on the planet Mustafar, causing much damage to his lung tissue and would require the need for a filter mask to intake 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 that supports him with his supposedly chronically injured lungs. It also protects his damaged and vulnerable damaged skin from infection.[57] In a separate 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 lung transplantation as a better choice.[58]

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 from his lungs constantly filling with liquid. His mechanical body did, however, give him advantages in combat from being made of solid material as opposed to 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 some problems with this type of cybernetic body are the lack of knowledge in brain circuitry coding which has yet to be decrypted, while arguing most prosthetic and cybernetic technology in Star Wars is still plausible with continuous research and development in the 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.[59]
Main articles: Levitation and Magnetic levitation

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

Rockets used for levitation run on solid or liquid based fuel. They function on Newton's Third Law of action and reaction.[60] In Star Wars, rockets and many starships use the same function of levitation to enter flight and to escape a planet's (or moon or asteroid) gravity and eventually enter outer space. Some of these ships also use rockets to slow down their landings on the surface and reduce their weight until they touch the ground, but at a slow and safe horizontal speed.

Other starships in Star Wars use gravity repulsion coils to lift off the surface and depart from its point of origin.[citation needed] Gravity repulsion is also common to planet based vehicles in Star Wars such as Luke Skywalker's landspeeder, Jabba the Hutt's sail barge, snowspeeders and hover bikes etc.[61] The carbonite freezing coffin that kept Han Solo in suspension was also suspended in midair using a gravity repulsion force field.[62][63] Many droids and robots also use this technology to stay above the surface such as the Imperial Probe Droid which maneuvers itself on force field levitation produced by devices on its body called "repulsorlifts".[64]

Levitation by these methods seen in Star Wars already exist in modern times, but with fundamental differences 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.[65] Many surface levitation vehicles (and droids) in Star Wars however do not rely on their surfaces to co-produce any such magnetic charges and instead their coils provide them entirely with levitation by directly repulsing the gravity of the surface of the planet/moon/asteroid/starship they are on.

Such kind of 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.[66][67][68]

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 hovering 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 and is claimed to fly up to 10,000 feet and fly a horizontal speed of 173 miles an hour.[69] The hoverbike has been repeatedly compared to the hoverbikes seen in the Star Wars films.[70][71] It is not clarified, however if 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 as opposed to the current ones being developed.[39][72]

Mr Malloy's company, Malloy Aeronotics, is reported to have partnered with an American-based company for further experimenting and developing his hoverbikes for the US military.[73][74]

The DailyMail compared the US Army to Imperial stormtroopers when speculating future possibilities of the American armed forces using these bikes.[75] It is still unclear, however, if these bikes were actually inspired by Star Wars despite the similarities in appearance and performance.

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 those seen in Return of the Jedi that can be charged and it's trigger held. The release of the trigger would cause it to explode, destroying anything and anyone near it alongside the person holding it.[76] Bombs such as those are used by militant groups and military organizations to prevent nearby enemies form shooting them at sight, fearing they would also be dead in the explosion.

Another 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.[72] Such devices are used in the modern world primarily for demolition, but usually not timed devices. 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 in which a scene shows Jango Fett deploying space mines in an attempt to destroy Obi-Wan Kenobi and prevent him from pursuing him.[39]

In episode seven, The Force Awakens, similar explosives were used to disable the shields of the Starkiller base, but all connected to a single detonator which causes them to explode simultaneously when triggered.

Tractor beams[edit]

Main article: Tractor beam

A tractor beam is described as an invisible energy field that which can grab, trap/suspend and move objects with force. Tractor beams in Star Wars were first seen on 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 their supersized star destroyers and their two Death Stars for such purposes.

Scientists have explored the concept of tractor beams, making 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 to drag hollow glass spheres by a distance of roughly 7.8 inches, several times more the distance than previous experiments.[77]

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. Using a precisely timed sequence of sound waves produced by tiny loudspeakers creating limited space of low pressure that can counteract gravity and levitate objects.[77]

Radios and other communications devices[edit]

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, subspace transceivers 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.[40]

Devices for more short 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.[78]

Most humanoid droids such as C-3PO communicate long distances using these comlinks; whereas other droids such as R2-D2 or the Imperial Probe Droid use antennas to transmit/receive messages and signals for these longer range communications.[64]

Devices for long range communications within a planet are also connected by satellites orbiting the planet.[40]

Carbonite freezing[edit]

Carbonite freezing in Star Wars is first seen on film in The Empire Strikes Back and its novelization where Darth Vader and The Empire place and freeze Han Solo in carbonite casing. Its usage and reverse is also later seen in the sequel Return of the Jedi.

Carbonite freezing is based on the concept of cryonics, which is freezing a living organism to a temperature to keep it in suspended animation. The technology is still being further researched and developed by scientists to 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 is possibly a "dry ice" with an opposite charge. He further speculates it being a form of carbon dioxide mineral that, like cryonics, is kept at very low temperatures to the point that there is no need for oxygen or blood-flow and 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 this process as depicted in the film to be a scientific, physical challenge.[4]

Computers and other artificial intelligence[edit]

Luke Skywalker next to a moisture vaporator on Tatooine with a treadwell droid, WED-15-77, beside it. Online Canadian magazine, OttawaLife reports that machinery such as the moisture vaporators are becoming a reality, very similar to those seen in Star Wars with various beneficial purposes such as providing water in harsh conditions and fighting desertification.[79]

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 the Star Wars movies as well as the Star Wars expanded universe including both canon and non-canon stories from personal computers. These all range from and include computer notebooks to bigger, more sophisticated computers.

Such computers are also used to perform super complex tasks, such as the "navcomputer" on many spaceships that autopilot the ships from one part of the galaxy to another.

One commonality of artificially intelligent machinery in Star Wars, as in real life is their requirement to be pre-programmed and loaded with data to be able to assess and analyze information during construction, repair and/or upgrading. They 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.

All forms of artificial intelligence in Star Wars, also as in the modern world, range from various capabilities and purposes from basic to advanced. Many of these also require manual operation and/or programming. This is sometimes achieved with the help of the 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 3PO questions weather it means shutting him down too, Han replies no because he needs him to communicate with the ships computer.[80] This is possibly due to Han knowing the fact that C-3PO is a protocol droid who is fluent in over six million forms of communications, including the ability to communicate with computers and other machinery in their specific language.

Another example is moisture vaporators, devices that produce water from hydrogen and oxygen in the air, first seen on film in A New Hope possess more basic intelligence such as the humidity and air density sensors.[81] These help them with taking samples from the air and producing water. They still require input from robots. The film also shows Owen Lars, Luke's uncle, telling 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 3D graphic illustration of a Star Wars style hologram.

Holography was first seen in the fourth Star Wars film, 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 were not available as seen in the films. 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.[82]

Neowin reports that research conducted by Microsoft has brought about the creation of 3D holographic technology. The technology is intended be used for various kinds of purposes such as plotting data on maps.[83]

ExtremeTech reports that smartphones created at HP labs are now bringing 3D holographic technology from Star Wars closer to reality.[84]

Artificial moons and planets[edit]

Other technologies[edit]

Aside from major groundbreaking technologies, the Star Wars universe also exhibits other minor technologies that play less or no 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 just like binoculars, with the purpose of giving the user the ability to see through vast distances. It was first seen on film in A New Hope and mentioned in it's 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 which give the users abilities to see through great distances in clear vision and are also able to video record their sightings.[85]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Ha. "Science Has Built Luke Skywalker's Robotic Hand, Touch and All". Gizmodo. Gawker Media. 
  2. ^ "Star Wars-style robotic arm approved for mass production". 
  3. ^ "Stretchy Artificial Skin Lets Prosthetic Hand Sense Heat, Humidity, and Pressure". 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Star Wars Tech (2007 documentary)
  5. ^ "TIE Fighter - Star Wars Glossary - What is a TIE Fighter". Amelia Hill. Entertainment. 
  6. ^ Star Wars Technical Journal by Shane Johnson (page 92-93) ISBN 0-345-40182-4
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External links[edit]