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Bring the magic of Harry Potter into the Muggle World with this top tech

To celebrate the release of the new Fantastic Beasts movie, the Secrets of Dumbledore, Charles Griffiths, Head of Technology and Innovation at AAG, looks at the tech that makes our muggle world magical.
13.04.22 Charles Griffiths

Below, Charles has picked the top tech that can replicate the magic of Harry Potter, showcasing some fantastic inventions and developments that bring fantasy into the 21st Century.


Skele-Gro

A potion that regrows bones

Top tech equivalent: EpiBone

“‘You’re in for a rough night,’ she said, pouring out a steaming beakerful and handing it to him. ‘Regrowing bones is a nasty business.’”

Madam Pomfrey
giving Harry Skele-Gro to regrow the bones in his arm

By using a patient’s stem cells, EpiBone aim to grow bones that can be seamlessly implanted into an individual. The idea is that, as the bone grafts are created from the patient’s own cells, they won’t be rejected when implanted. And where Harry has to endure his bones growing back within his arm, EpiBone uses their ‘bioreactor’ to incubate the new bone before implantation. While the technology is not currently available, clinical trials started in 2021, with the first results expected in 2023.

Status: Clinical Trials, results expected 2023


Legilimens

A spell that lets the caster read someone’s thoughts

Top tech equivalent: Neuralink

“Legilimency sounded like mind-reading to Harry”

Harry Potter
listening to Snape explain Legilimency

While it can’t help you read the minds of others, Neuralink nonetheless promises to revolutionise how we interact with technology. With a chip implant in the brain, Neuralink can read thoughts and allow users to interact hands-free with the world around them. It hasn’t been tested on humans yet, but a monkey with a Neuralink implant was able to play a computer game using nothing but its mind.

Status: Experimental


Apparition

Allows the user to instantly transport themselves from one place to another

Top tech equivalent: Project Starline

“...Everything went black; he was being pressed very hard from all directions; he could not breathe”

Harry Potter
apparating for the first time

While instant physical transportation from one place to another will likely remain in the realms of fantasy, Google’s Project Starline brings us as close as possible to apparition. Through 3D imaging and custom hardware, Starline connects people with a far deeper sense of immersion than regular video conferencing; Google already uses the tech in their New York, Bay Area and Seattle offices, and hopes to roll it out for commercial and personal use in the near future.

Status: Experimental, limited availability in Google offices


Invisibility cloak

A magical cloak given to Harry that, when worn, renders him completely invisible

Top tech equivalent: Quantum Stealth

“Sure enough, his reflection looked back at him, just his head suspended in mid-air, his body completely invisible.”

Harry Potter
wearing his invisibility cloak

Quantum Stealth is a patent-pending material that bends light around it to render the object behind it completely invisible. Beyond sight, Quantum Stealth also hides the object from infrared (night vision) and removes its thermal signature, as well as most of the target’s shadow.

Where Harry’s cloak kept him hidden through his adventures in Hogwarts, Quantum Stealth is being developed with military application in mind; example use cases include marines infiltrating enemy areas in broad daylight hidden from view.

Status: Experimental, currently patent-pending


Pensieve

A magical object owned by Dumbledore that allowed him to store and view both his, and others, memories

Top tech equivalent: OpenWorm Project

“‘One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure.’”

Dumbledore
explaining how the Pensieve works

Currently theoretical, whole brain emulation involves transferring the mental ‘essence’ of a person onto machines. Creating digital forms of memories, thoughts and everything that makes a person unique would mean that person would have a perfect digital copy of themselves. While we can’t currently achieve that, the OpenWorm project aims to digitally map the mind and behaviours of C. elegans, a type of worm.

Currently, they have been able to build a model of a muscle cell and the digital worm can crawl in simulations. The implications, if they are able to completely map and simulate the cells and behaviour of this worm, are huge, as this could be a step towards whole brain emulation for humans.

Status: Experimental – open source software available for scientists to contribute to the project.


Polyjuice Potion

A potion that temporarily changed someone’s name appearance

Top tech equivalent: Metamorphose masks

“‘It transforms you into somebody else. Think about it! We could change into three of the Slytherins.’”

Hermione
explaining Polyjuice Potion

To play the role of Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter movies, Warwick Davies used silicone face masks to transform his appearance. And achieving realistic face transformations is not limited to Hollywood movies; companies like Metamorphose Masks sell hyper-realistic silicone masks for people to create fantastic Halloween or party outfits. The current selection Metamorphose offer include a zombie mask and even a goblin to channel your inner Griphook.

Status: Publicly available


Bubblehead charm

A spell that created a bubble of air around the caster’s head, allowing them to breathe underwater

Top tech equivalent: Exolung

“Harry looked up and saw Cedric swimming towards them. There was an enormous bubble around his head”

Cedric
employing the Bubblehead Charm for the second task of the Triwizard tournament

Perhaps less elegant than Cedric’s bubblehead charm, the Exolung is nonetheless an impressive feat of engineering that simplifies diving and makes it more accessible to the general public. Where regular diving equipment requires extensive training and a license to operate safely, the Exolung enables anyone to dive up to 5m with an unlimited air supply. The Exolung works through the diver propelling themselves through the water; the action draws air in from the surface down into the ‘lung’ chamber, where it can be freely inhaled by the diver.

Status: Experimental, currently in the final prototype phase


Marauder’s map

A magical map that showed the complete layout of Hogwarts and the precise location of anyone within the castle grounds

Top tech equivalent: Bosch position tracking smart sensor (BHI160BP)

“It was a map showing every detail of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. But the truly remarkable thing was the tiny ink dots moving around it, each labelled with a name”

Fred and George
revealing the Marauder’s map

Being able to accurately track a person’s location like the Marauder’s map has far-reaching applications, from the better mapping of fitness (such as the distance of a run) to security (such as tracking external visitors through an office). Bosch’s smart sensor combines GPS and PDR (pedestrian dead reckoning software) and is installed into smartwatches and other wearables to give accurate location data, even when within buildings or areas with a poor internet connection.

Status: Available for companies to purchase for installation in their products (e.g. smartwatches)


Alohomora

A spell that unlocks doors

Top tech equivalent: August smart lock pro

“She grabbed Harry’s wand, tapped the lock and whispered ‘Alohomora!’
The lock clicked and the door swung open”

Hermione
using the Alohomora charm to open a door

When carrying shopping or (in the case of Harry, Ron and Hermione) escaping trouble, being able to quickly open your door with just your voice makes getting inside much easier. The August smart lock pro integrates with smart home tech like Alexa or Google to provide hands-free control over your door. Through the app, you can remotely lock or unlock your door, as well as control it through voice commands.

Status: Publicly available


Self-writing quill

A magical quill that can write by itself

Top tech equivalent: Jasper

“...boxes of quills, which came in the Self-Inking, Spell-Checking and Smart Answer varieties.”

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
The selection of self-writing quills on sale

Originally named after Tony Stark’s AI program Jarvis, Jasper is a writing assistant that can create a huge range of web content, from ads to blog posts. The software scanned 10% of the public internet, so is able to mimic the language online writers use to output unique content.

Status: Publicly available