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December 6th, 2002

Back to the Future Scorecard

In Back to the Future II, young Marty McFly experienced life in 2015 for a few days. 2015 isn’t that far off now, especially with the New Year beckoning, so I thought it was high time to see just how likely the 2015 in BTTF really is.

  • Hoverboard. The infamous hoverboard gained notoriety when producer Robert Zemeckis claimed they existed at the time. In reality, they feel pretty far off – given we have nothing at a consumer level that beats gravity. Maybe the Segway will ‘replace’ the Hoverboard in history, though. Likelihood: 30%.
  • Self-adjusting and self-drying clothing and shoes. When he first gets to 2015, Marty puts on a large jacket. By pressing a button, the jacket resizes to fit him. Similarly, his shoes are too large and have no laces; a button makes them fit. A very cool technology, and given that wearable computers are practically here, I think it’s very likely that these will exist in 2015. Likelihood: 95%.
  • Flying cars. Not if the Bush administration has its way! [rimshot] (Thank you, thank you! Try the veal!) …Anyway… hover cars are a very neat concept, of course, but flying cars at high speeds? Highways in the sky? It sounds pretty far-fetched, even though we were supposed to have all of this stuff in 2000. I maintain that we won’t have them until at least 2020, and that’ll only be because the Segway doesn’t change the way we build cities. Likelihood: 20%.
  • Fully automated restaurants. The Cafe 80s was a fully computerized restaurant, featuring a Max Headroom-like Ronald Reagan acting as the ‘waiter’. Given that Europe has been developing enormous automated vending machines, I don’t think this is far fetched. I don’t think a Cafe 80s will really exist in 2015, though, given that 80s nostalgia is an ongoing thing now. It won’t make it another 12 years. Likelihood: 85%.
  • Pepsi at a restaurant costing $50.00. Doc gives Marty a fifty to buy a Pepsi. That’d mean in 12 years, the cost of a Pepsi at a diner would increase nearly 25 times. I don’t know about you, but that would really, really, really make things difficult for me. Likelihood: 25%.
  • Bionic implants and ‘muscle suits’. Biff’s grandson Griff has bionic implants to supplement his brain (or lack thereof) and a specially-designed suit to give him more strength. This will happen. Likelihood: 76.3%.
  • Changing newspapers. As Marty recovers from an experience with his self-drying jacket, he and Doc read USA Today, which changes dynamically in their hands. Paper computers exist, and I think they’ll be mature by 2015. Likelihood: 90%.
  • Death of doorknobs, wallets, and IDs. Instead of doorknobs, doors use fingerprint identification to let people in. Fingerprint IDs, in fact, are everywhere: they pay for things and provide positive identification. It’s a really cool idea, and given how far things are right now, I don’t see it not happening. Likelihood: 95%.
  • Roll-up TVs. TVs in 2015 are all big, for the most part, and are roll-up – like projector surfaces today. I think the technology will exist to make an ultra-thin TV, but as a roll-up? Naah, it’ll just vanish – with Clapper-like ease. Likelihood: 60%.
  • Hydrator. This kitchen appliance would take a small foodstuff, entirely devoid of moisture, and give it all the moisture it needs. Black and Decker will make this appliance, and it will be in pink. Best of all, it’ll make a whole pizza from Pizza Hut in about 10 seconds. However, we haven’t had any big cooking innovations since the microwave… so this seems dream-like. Likelihood: 40%.
  • Mr. Fusion. A device attached to a car that will convert anything – garbage, for instance – into fuel. This would be an incredible invention: it’d take care of our global garbage problem while providing fuel for our retrofitted flying DeLoreans. I would love one. It seems far-fetched today, but given what Toyota and Honda are doing with car engine technology… I could see it in 2015, but not at the consumer level. Likelihood: 20%.
  • Vietnamese vacations. Marty and Doc stand by a travel poster urging readers to “Surf Vietnam”. People already visit Vietnam today (surprise!), and I could see it becoming a hip tourist destination. Likelihood: 78%.

Overall, the movie did a pretty bad job of showing us the future. What were they thinking? We’d continue to have real, life-changing inventions that helped people live better, more enjoyable, and more productive lives for a long period of time… a sort of neo-Renaissance?

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: Greg
DATE: Friday December 6, 2002 -- 10:50:01 am
Paul, you forgot one of the most important aspects of the movie! It was the beginning of the entire plot of BTTF 2. Likelihood of the Cubs winning the World Series: 0.0%

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday December 6, 2002 -- 11:35:21 am
Somebody just got the BTTF box set, it seems! (And mine is on the way...)

Good Ping, Paul.

FROM: Terry M.
DATE: Friday December 6, 2002 -- 12:36:03 pm
Do you guys really have the box set already? I thought it won't be out for 11 days. Man, I can't wait, so I can finally throw out my Malaysian VCD version of the trilogy which is full-screen, horrible quality, some sections missing, and partly in mono.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday December 6, 2002 -- 2:15:16 pm
I don't have it. It's on my Christmas list... all of this was done from memory, which is probably a little disturbing to some.

FROM: Marcus Mackey
DATE: Friday December 6, 2002 -- 2:34:43 pm
Great Ping Paul, and I love the segue (not to be confused with the Segway ;)) that leads me thinking "Shrek" ("Try the veal"). ;) You've been hittin' the TiVo/DVD pretty hard lately, haven't 'ya? ;) hehe

The roll-up TV I can see happening, since the roll-up electronic newspaper technology that I was reading about in Wired and on The Register awhile back was also said to work very well towards the potentials of replacing the LCD. The funny part is, I remember reading somewhere else that 2 or 3 companies, Hewlett Packard and Casio I believe were amongst the list, that utilized a form of "ink" injected between two plastic sheets, that was somehow directed electronically to generate the imagery and text. They said there were both color and black and white variants. It sounds totally bizarre, but if it works... it's definitely something on the "wow" fashion to see, I'm sure. If it can support High-Definition, and from what I gather it can, it could well be the wave of the future.

That said... imagine a roll-up 17" High-Definition screen with an output jack that hooks into the future generation format replacement for DVD? Then again... scratch that notion from your mind, and think about this...

With 802.11b getting as far as it has, in another 10 years or so, can you imagine a roll-up TV (larger format than today's portable, and yet, a lot easier to carry) that is wireless, perhaps with a future battery format, that receives transmissions similar to how modern cable TV does, via something like 802.11b. If 802.11b were to increase range as well as bandwidth according to Fitt's Law, we could definitely transmit compressed video (imagine that improving too, DVD is in fact a format of MPEG for those not in the know) through the air at that rate I would think. Mind you, this all would likely replace Cable TV and Satellite TV (perhaps even cable/DSL internet) by then *IF* it were to be possible (seems fathomable). Maybe not by 2015, but let's face it... in about 20 years time the conventional satellite dish went from a 6' home unit to a 18-25" dish. In another 20 years what could it become? :)

Think it sounds absurd?!? I don't think the MPAA (nor the RIAA) really is liking the nature of which their assets/mediums can be bought/sold and thereby, pirated, I think this arena of the market is deemed to be highly unprofitable and uncontrollable by our own rules of "rights" via government. With the computer industry looking "heavily" at subscriber models in the future (similar to Cable TV/Satellite and other monthly mediums like XM Radio and the like), I can see things working like a giant, multi-terabyte equipped "network" TiVo. Roll out your TV (home units likely wouldn't roll, but then again... they might for ease of storage), launch the interface (hopefully not based on BMW's iDrive design ;)), select what movie or show you wish from a listing, and watch whatever you want, whenever you want. There'd be your general sitcom listing, but you'd not be relagated to watching at any particular time (like now where a certain sitcom comes on at 8pm), but when you want to watch it or are capable. Of course items are added as produced and finalized, so the *INITIAL* viewing of anything could be done just like today, but if you miss it... rather than call up a friend or neighbor, or have to fire up the ol' VCR (obviously gone by then) and go through the heinous cryptic art of programming, simply ciphering through menus or perhaps even using some sort of search engine, one could pick whatever movie or show. There'd be no need for an end-user TiVO system, which the MPAA would love for obvious reasons, and for the same reasons they went after SonicBlue (ReplayTV). If there's no "PERSONAL" storage, there's no chance of hacking of the units and thereby, very little chance of piracy.

Oddly enough (or perhaps not odd at all), I somehow think the future of TV somehow, someway, centers around the "Digital hub" idea too. With Apple moving towards the "iPod" digital lifestyle device, is there any no-brainer people out there who can see the interface of the home computer being somehow melded into something like TiVo, using the same TV technology (remember, future monitors coming out are HDTV), and somehow integrating into the home theater? True, it wouldn't be something you could just combine together in one box, nor could the "current" home computer interface work really well by just slapping it into the home unit, but at some point... I do see some semblance of the computer, or an "NC" like Larry Ellison was enamored with (network booting computer, access on a subscriber model), making it's way into the home entertainment business. Even some Kenwood and Sony receivers are starting to more resemble a computer (some of their remotes look like PDA's) than a stereo component. Rackmount (as in stereo component, not 1u) computers? :) Perhaps another wave of the future ahead.

FROM: Matt
DATE: Saturday December 7, 2002 -- 10:45:26 pm
I don't think any of these "future" ideas and items will really be that helpful to society. Just another way to throw people's money down the drain and make things outdated. If anything that Back to the Future II had to show that was important it would be Mr. Fusion. Everything else is just some jizzlobbing dream of some techo-nerds.

FROM: Game Show Man Joe Van Ginkel [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday December 20, 2002 -- 1:35:36 am
For those interested, the BTTF DVD set has been released.

It is AWESOME. Lots of nifty features, and BTTF in WIDESCREEN. This is a definite must-own for DVD collectors.

"Game Show Man" Joe Van Ginkel

FROM: The mesage board
DATE: Tuesday October 28, 2003 -- 10:23:24 pm
The board's opinions of your article.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday October 29, 2003 -- 12:11:41 am
It's funny how the board (of a very good site, incidentally) lambasts Paul for "not getting it" when they're the ones who seem to be missing the sarcasm.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Wednesday October 29, 2003 -- 9:04:56 am
That is pretty funny, given that I'm one of the biggest BTTF fans I know (and my wife will attest to my incessant quoting of the movie.)

Ah, the Daily Ping: sometimes taken too seriously.

FROM: Eastwood McFly
DATE: Saturday November 1, 2003 -- 11:59:51 pm
You can't really say they did a bad job predicting the future the Creators never wanted to show the Future to the audience. But when they ended part I the way they did, they decided to do anyway (in order not to disappoint the audience.
Instead of being serius and make the well-known "dark-future" (like in so many other sci-fi movies), they decided to make a joke out of it. They made their 2015 a parody on the 1980s, just with a lot of high-tech developed 80s stuff.
Just look at the colors; bright and...well...colorful. Just like they were in the 80s.

FROM: Ms Fusion
DATE: Saturday May 29, 2004 -- 8:40:33 am
You don't even know what BTTF2 is about, I think you really need bionic implant.

What is this then?

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