In most science fiction movies and literature, lasers are a big part of the future. Although it might take a while to realize the lasers in fiction, modern-day lasers already have widespread use. Almost every industry relies on lasers for one thing or another — and not the way science fiction imagines it.
The closest modern-day lasers get to their science fiction counterparts is in manufacturing. The industry heavily relies on powerful laser cutters to shape, weld, and cut metals.
Fabrication with the use of lasers allows precise and intricate detailing — with sacrificing quality. The precision of laser cutting ensures the highest level of standardization and uniformity. All cuts are the same, and the only divergence will come from the material it is used on.
The use of lasers — especially in automated production — significantly increases turnouts, which is essential to the industry. Laser cutters are also used to customize and engrave metals, glass, wood, and other materials. Rotary engraving machines are all but forgotten as some of the best and most accurate laser cutters have taken over their role.
2. Communications and Entertainment
Laser technology has become essential to everyday life — particularly if you use the internet. Fiber optic cables spanning millions of miles make the world a smaller place as they connect millions of people over the internet.
Information is processed and transformed — traveling at the speed of light from one source to its destination. Film, music, text, images, or any data can be accessed from any part of the globe almost in an instant.
Even physical copies of movies, music, and film require the use of lasers — although Blu-Rays, CDs, and game disks are slowly becoming collectable items for a shrinking market.
Almost every purchase you make will be scanned by lasers. Groceries and retail stores commonly use bar codes to label their products and store information.
A laser reader will process the data in the bar code — making transactions faster and easier.
Of course, bar codes are not limited to your local groceries — they can be used in any place that requires quick processing of information like libraries, doctors’ offices, car rentals, warehouses, and many others.
In real life, lasers save lives. Doctors and surgeons will often integrate the use of lasers in procedures that require the utmost care.
The use of lasers provide allows surgeons to operate with increased precision and consistency — minimizing or eliminating damage to the affected areas. Laser-assisted surgeries have been proven to be safer, and patients that undergo these procedures have significantly shorter recovery times.
One of the most popular uses of lasers in medicine is laser eye surgery or LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). The procedure has given millions of people clearer vision — eliminating the need for glasses 90 percent of the time. Even trips to the dentist have been made more tolerable with more silent lasers replacing the scary drills.
One of the most unlikely uses of lasers is as a glorified ruler. In construction, lasers are used to measure distance, elevation, and alignment.
Construction requires absolute precision and being off by less than a millimeter can be disastrous once you’re building structures well over 20 stories — not to mention skyscrapers. The use of lasers in construction allows builders to build higher while still ensuring the safety of their crew.
While sci-fi laser guns remain science fiction (for the meantime), modern lasers are a normal part of various industries. They may not be protecting you from an alien invasion, but lasers have already changed the world as you know it.