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Today – Oct. 21, 2015 – is the date to which the fictional Marty McFly traveled in the 1989 movie Back to the Future Part II. Tyler Groft, the Da Vinci Science Center’s Outreach Coordinator, was not even born until the year following the movie’s release and is squarely in the so-called Millennial generation of Americans born between 1980 and 1997. As a science professional who also watched the film again last night, Tyler shares his perspectives on the technology predicted in the film in comparison with today’s reality. Here is what he wrote:
Now, for those of you – like myself – who may not have had the privilege of seeing Back to the Future Part II in theaters when it was released in 1989, today, Oct. 21, 2015 marks the infamous date in the “future” to which Marty and Doc Brown travel.
So, on behalf of the Da Vinci Science Center, I’d like to welcome you all to the future! Unfortunately, when it comes to certain advancements, like self-adjusting clothing, the “Mr. Fusion” car engine, or hydroponic bays in our kitchen ceilings, we haven’t quite kept up with the expectations of the 1980s.
However, there are some very interesting developments that make the present seem almost more fantastic than those presented in Back to the Future II. For example: Phone booths still lined the streets and a fax machine was in every room of the house – two technologies that I’ve never actually even used …
There are, however, some things that the movie got very right, including: 3-D holograms without the use of glasses as seen in Nintendo’s 3DS, Voice Command/Response like SIRI, Cortana, and Google Voice, and Video Conferencing technology like Skype and Google Hangout.
Finally, there are technologies that may have been inspired by this classic film. Virtual reality goggles – like the Oculus Rift – place the wearer into a virtual world wherein they can watch movies/shows, play games, and interact with others across the globe! Perhaps one of the film’s infamous scenes – the hover board chase between Griff and Marty – features a skateboard-like device that floats across land, cars, even water! Now, we may not all be riding these devices to work, but with technology like the Segway and even the new Lexus Slide, we are getting quite close!
All in all, Back to the Future II is a great film that allows us all to reflect on the past and envision the future.