You open an app. Boom – you black out, and 30 minutes later you're out of breath, everyone's trying to kill you, the modern world is falling apart, and your phone charger has somehow become sentient. That's basically the premise of every Black Mirror episode. Charlie Brooker's sci fi anthology series is known for its insane, horrifying technology, but what else would you expect from a show that's literally named after our bleak reflections staring back at us from our turned-off iPhones?
The gadgets from Black Mirror are at the center of the high-tech, dystopian worlds that have made the series a critical and audience darling. It's a future where morality is questionable, empathy is often forced, and those who break free of societal norms are always, always punished. But there's usually a distant glimmer of hope, at least in the idea of a digital afterlife (albeit you might have to suffer through a lifetime of tech-fueled hell and a few nips from a robot dog before you get there).
Despite the bleak outlook, Black Mirror is brimming with good tech. If there's anything the show has taught us, it's that the destructive technology isn't inherently evil – it can't be. It's the people behind it who spiral into places so depraved and dismal that the dark web looks like YouTube for kids. Like anything, it's surgically implanted into the eye of the beholder... and uploaded for the world to see.
The tech from Black Mirror that should be real usually helps users in more practical ways – from remembering that homework to preparing them for the fact that their Tinder date is probably going to be a major bust. It all may seem like the product of a distant future, but, somewhat alarmingly, the technology from Black Mirror is right around the corner.
Here's a look at all the technology in Black Mirror – the useful devices , the dystopian disasters, and everything in between.
Season 3, episode 5, "Men Against Fire"
MASS is a neural implant that enhances the five senses. It allows soldiers to get extra information about their surroundings, talk to each other, and receive advanced orders. In some cases, it dulls the sense of smell to make soldiers numb to the stench of dead bodies.
One of the implant's key features is how it visually augments reality. In "Men Against Fire," it's used to dehumanize persecuted civilians that solders are meant to slaughter in a calculated genocide. MASS makes normal humans look like actual monsters.
Season 4, episode 2, "Arkangel"
This controversial surveillance tool can be implanted into a child's head. Once it's there, it has a couple key features that parents can control from an iPad-like tablet. You can track your kid on a GPS, view the world through their eyes, browse through and replay their memories, and censor images they're viewing in real life.
If you don't want your child to see violence or gore, you can blur out all real-life images of blood. If your 15-year-old daughter sneaks out with her older boyfriend, you can watch the whole thing unfold from her perspective (if you must). The implant cannot be removed.
Season 3, episode 1, "Nosedive"
On this social network, people review other humans the same way they review restaurants on Yelp or rate their Uber driver. Every human is rated on every single interaction they have throughout the day, and that rating is stored in an implant on their body.
This system helps determine everything from whether or not you qualify for an apartment or whether or not you get that promotion at work. Those who have their implants removed are shunned from society.
Season 1, episode 2, "Fifteen Million Merits"
These advertisements track your eye's movements. If you're looking away from the screen, the ad will pause and only resume when you're paying full attention. You must watch the whole ad to get it to go away.