What Predictions Back to the Future Got Right
26 years ago, Marty McFly and Doc Brown climbed into their time-traveling flying DeLorean and set the controls to the distant future – October 21, 2015 –which happens to be today.
For a $40M dollar budget, it’s pretty amazing what they achieved with the vision presented in the film. So as you read these correct predictions, think about how you might have profited from these areas if you took action on them 26 years ago.
In What Predictions Back to the Future Got Right we look at the major ideas presented in the film.
Predictions That Back to the Future Got Right
Brain Controlled / Wireless Video Games – Research into brain interfaces is rising. I featured a number of studies in my article ‘The Future of User Experience – Mind Control’.
3D Movies – Marty gets eaten by ‘holographic Jaws.’ in the film. Maybe we are not quite there with that level of immersion, we certainly are surrounded by 3D movies, 3D TVs, 3D cameras and light field photography.
Augmented & Virtual Reality and Wearable Technology – Marty Jr. is seen viewing an incoming phone call in his glasses. Oculus Rift, Hololens, Magic Leap and others are promising some amazing experiences. Maybe not exactly there but close enough.
Handheld tablet computers – Not much more to say about this except that tablets are everywhere, although the sales are slowing in 2015.
Videoconferencing – McFly is seen videoconferencing with a coworker and now Skype, Google Hangouts and multiple other platforms are everywhere.
Wall mounted widescreen TVs – Watching six television channels simultaneously may not be standard but the idea of second screens and multiple content angles being served is very real.
Hydroponics – Marty Jr. reaching for fruit from the retractable garden in his kitchen. Well, this is also happening, and now even food is being grown in space.
Biometric Scanners – We see fingerprint scanners as door locks and this and other biometric authentication is happening.
Hoverboards: Though a few companies have rigged gigantic magnets to simulate real life hoverboards, we haven’t found a way to make a practical, scalable version yet.
Predictions That Back to the Future Didn’t Get Right
Back to the Future didn’t get everything right and here’s the technologies that haven’t quite arrived.
Time machines: Though I wish we could all drive DeLoreans rigged with Time Machines, unfortunately, the laws of physics still prevent us from jumping around the space-time continuum at will.
Mr. Fusion: While many teams are claiming to get close to net-positive energy fusion, no one has reached there… and even when they do, it’s unlikely to fit in the back of my car.
Flying cars: A number of companies like Zee.aero, Terrafugia and AeroMobil are hard at work to try and create this future. The big problem is not creating flying cars but working out how they work in the modern world. The roads are dangerous, think about reckless ‘flyers’ and ‘air rage’.
Power clothing (self drying, self tying shoelaces): Nike claims to release a pair of self-tying laces this year (2015) in commemoration of the movie. The question I have is, why have self-tying laces? Don’t slip-ons do the same job. People are obsessing. Regardless, they have patented the technology.
Ubiquitous fax machines: Fax machines were a big feature in Back to the Future. While they are consigned to the past theseday the idea of being able to get messaging everywhere still stands. Today more people in the world have access to cellphones than to clean water – that’s over 6 billion people. Mobile really is eating the world.
I cover elements of modern technologies and the effects on humanity in my weekly series – Top-5 Futures. See some of the posts here:
Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, lectures, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving.