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October 21, 2015

Back to the Future Day, Great Scott! The reality of the film’s tech in 2015

List: No need for the DeLorean as 6 tech experts see what tech has become a reality in 2015 – unfortunately no hover boards....yet.

By Ellie Burns

In the second Back to the Future film, Doc and Marty crash landed today – 21st October 2015. Released in 1989, the film predicted a number of technologies which the creators envisaged would become part of future life. But what did they get right?

Calling in our very own Doc Browns, CBR asks 6 experts their thoughts on Back to the Future Day.

1. Smart Watches & Smart Glasses

Michael Hack, Senior Vice President EMEA Operations at Ipswitch, said:

"If Marty’s watch-covered wrists are anything to go by, Director Robert Zumeckis hinted that wearable tech would be the latest thing in 2015. We aren’t quite there yet, but in our recent survey over fifty one percent of businesses have employees wearing technology to the office, although I doubt employees will be sporting self-drying jackets any time soon.

"One innovation that appeared two years before the movie predicted was smart glasses. Much like the Google glass Marty’s kids could answer the phone and watch videos right from their eyewear.

"Whilst there aren’t many kids who can boast of owning this tech just yet, the demand for wearables is growing at an unprecedented rate. They are sure to be the trend of the not-so-distant future."


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2. Video Conferencing

Bruce Miller, VP Product Management at Xirrus, said:

"We saw the first Wi-Fi networks a few years after Back to the Future II was made, and the movie proved to be on the right track when it came to the ways we might compute and communicate in the future.

"Video conferencing in the film was rather basic, but it is not far removed from the FaceTime and Skype apps we accept as the norm today. And tablet-style computers are everywhere today, another item that appeared in the film."


3. Biometric payments

Ryan O’Leary, Sr. Director of Threat Research Centre at WhiteHat Security, said:

"The good news is that we have come a long way in the cashless transaction world and it’s easier than ever to pay for goods and services without the need for cash.

"Also, there’s a technology that’s actually strikingly similar to Biff’s mode of payment, that’s Apple Pay. Apple Pay utilises an NFC payment method where the user uses either their iPhone or Apple Watch to touch an NFC contact, which then prompts you to enter either your code or fingerprint.

"Perhaps in remakes old Biff should be sporting an Apple Watch to make his taxi cab purchase!"


4. Hover boards

Martyn Ruks, Technical Director of MWR InfoSecurity, said:

"Like everyone else, we want to know ‘where are they?’ Perhaps at some point between 1985 and today, the companies developing hover technology have had their designs tampered with, which is why we’re still struggling to get it right.

"Yes, true – Lexus has made a valiant attempt and should be applauded for its ‘hover board’, but you have to admit that a metal track and magnets is never going to scale!"


5. Flying cars

Simon Moffatt, Solutions Director at ForgeRock, said:

"Although we’re still a few years away from flying cars, many of the concepts introduced in Back To The Future have proved surprisingly astute. Wearable technology and connected cars are fast becoming a part of everyday life in 2015, la largely due to the explosive growth of apps and IoT devices.

"Back To The Future was a film firmly focussed on fun rather than future gazing, which makes it even more interesting how many technological ‘predictions’ have since become reality. It stands as testament to the fact that just because something seems so futuristic its laughable right now, it doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere hasn’t already invented it."


6. Robots

Gary Newe, Technical Director at F5 Networks, said:

"When Marty stepped into the future he saw robotic gas pumps and restaurant waiters. Although developments in robotics have been significant, there hasn’t been widespread use of them in services – with the exception of the world’s first robot hotel in Japan.

"Putting robots infront of the public requires strong security measures to ensure their controls cannot be hacked and taken over. Hackers could programme robotic petrol stations to put petrol in diesel engines, for example, or even something much more sinister."

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