It has always been the penchant of science fiction authors to gaze into the future of technology. What they find within their imaginations often becomes the stuff of literal legend, with a rich history of film and books playing out the dramas and amazing adventures which futuristic technologies and design might facilitate.
Sitting here in 2015, it is easy for a child of the 70's or 80's to feel like we have in some capacity arrived into the future imagined by some very notable works of fiction.
While we might not have advanced to Star Trek-esque space adventures, and are much further still from conquering space and time like the venerable Doctor Who, we have seemingly arrived into a reasonable facsimile of the futuristic world as depicted in Back to the Future.
There are quite a few examples in Back to the Future which have remarkably similar real world counter parts. Many technologies which seemed like fanciful imaginations in 1985 are now fairly common parts of our daily lives.
Things like finger print scanning biometric door locks have now found themselves at home in the consumer market place and even popular for digital forms of security on computers and phones.
The flying camera's from the film have also found life as a consumer product, with hobbyist quadrocopters and similar remote controlled flying machines equipped with cameras.
In fact, camera's have in general proliferated themselves in a manner scarcely imagined in Back to the Future, although they certainly nailed the rise in video conferencing – something technologically infeasible circa 1985 but now most people reading this article will probably own several devices capable of video conferencing from home.
Communicating in the Future
While there are a lot of interesting ideas in Back to the Future, the authors could scarcely imagine how much communication would be revolutionised within a relatively short time frame.
In one of the films most retrospectively blatant technological faux pas we see fax machines depicted as one of the primary forms of communication. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth, with digital communications like e-mails, text messaging, and social media networks more or less abandoning the fax machine to an antiquated footnote in the evolution of modern communications.
For all of the fanciful imaginations of science fiction authors, very few imagined anything like the massive paradigm shift introduced by the internet and subsequently the mass popularity of smart phones and mobile computing.
In one scene, we see a character taking a call on her “T.V. Glasses” which brings to mind something similar to a primitive Google Glass. While this is a future we have not quite reached in a large scale manner, it is one that maybe on our horizon as the technology does exist and has already been developed with mass consumers in mind.
Toys of Tomorrow
Back to the Future shows us some neat video gaming concepts which would eventually be realised, such as wireless controllers and hands-free gaming through things like the Xbox Kinect. But certainly the penultimate adventure offered by the future as seen from 1985 is the hover board – the frictionless wonder which allows users to glide over any surface.
Though sadly for us we are unlikely to see such a miraculous device anytime soon, 2015 does indeed have hover boards – limited as they maybe. These devices do allow one to hover essentially without friction off the ground, but they only work on their purpose-made surfaces.
Check out this video of pro skate board hero Tony Hawk riding a Hendo Hoverboard.