The Jetsons: Vision or Fantasy?

by Tarelle Tolson on Jul 23, 2014 8:45:00 AM


The Jetsons is a classic American animated sitcom about a futuristic family – its 25-year run set the bar for our technological fantasies of “the future”. Or was it actually a blueprint for technological visionaries?

 Produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera from 1962 to 1987, The Jetsons cartoon was a fantasy view of a next-century family living in the year 2062. George, Jane, Judy and Elroy enjoy the apparent luxuries of robots, holograms, and technologies that viewers were unable to relate to, or conceive of in “low tech” 1962.

By the 1990s, thirty-plus years after the Jetsons first debuted, the child version of me watched reruns of The Jetsons, and I too was still caught up by future-world technological fantasies like telephone monitors that would drop down from the ceiling at the push of a button. But now, as an adult working squarely in the high-tech industry itself, it seems to me that Hanna-Barbera foresaw that many of the technologies we rely on today would come into being, and even these early days of the Internet of Things are based on concepts that emerged from this sitcom.

For example, in many episodes of The Jetsons, the characters walk around watching small hand-held devices. In 2014, these devices may now be recognized as tablets, smartphones, or wearable devices by the current kindergartner. Every morning, Jane Jetson prepared breakfast for the family by pushing a button for whatever food item the family desired, and within seconds it appeared and was ready to be consumed. Today, thanks to the Internet of Things, an entire household can be intelligently monitored and controlled from anywhere in the world, also at the push of a button. The Jetsons’ signature drop-down television monitor for phone calls is so familiar today in applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Apple’s Facetime, but it was once hard to conceive that this technological transformation of this enormity would actually be realized. This is also true of so many of the fascinating technologies that are coming to the market today.

As a technology public relations professional, I get a front-row seat to see an unending array of our clients’ most advanced technologies, many of which that could be perceived as only fantasy for the main stream. But, I’ve learned that it is crucial to understand each of our clients’ technological vision for the future, even when it is difficult for the market to foresee the changed reality advanced technologies will ultimately deliver. When we submerge ourselves into the vision, we keep the most open possible mind – and fuels our creativity behind the technology PR narrative. Becoming part of our client’s vision helps us genuinely relate to technological evolution, allowing us to be part of our fantasy-to-reality path toward the future.

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