Well, its November 2015. That means that Back To The Future day has come and gone. We are officially living beyond the future.
Whilst BttF2 didn’t get much right, it got me thinking what sort of future I thought I’d be living in when I was younger. It also got me thinking about other future predictions made by other pop-culture icons.
I remember thinking that Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Master System was the best video games would ever get. There is still a nostalgic part of me that still holds onto this notion, but not even fuzzy memories of simpler times can hold a torch to games like Grand Theft Auto V and Fallout 4.
Back to the Future 2 attempted to give the world of 1989 a look at what life would be like 26 years in the future, 2015. We don’t all dress like psychedelic visions of an acid trip gone wrong, with circuitry painted on our face, and moulded plastic chest plates. Nor did we ever get to Jaws 19 (Spielberg was busy with other projects, I guess). Our ‘hover boards’ have wheels and resemble Segways, and our cars are very much reliant on roads.
There are some things, however, that BTTF2 got right. As a kid, I used to be amazed at the thought of being able to have a phone call with someone and being able to see them! A video monitor on the wall in the kitchen or study thats only purpose would be to video call with someone who also has a screen in their kitchen/study. Little did I realise, that single purpose screens would soon become a thing of the past. When Skype launched in 2003, it gave computer users the ability to instant message, voice call, and (with the assistance of a webcam) video call other Skype users. The path was set for the video conferencing of the future. Little did anyone know, back in 2003, that the thought of using a computer to video call would soon not be a necessity. Apps like FaceTime, Snapchat, and Oovoo have moved the video call from the PC into users pockets, an accomplishment that even the wildest dreams of sci-fi futurists in the 1980’s couldn’t have predicted.
The Simpsons, in 1995, made an attempt to look into the future; this time at the year 2010. Lisa Simpson, a college student, meets and falls in love with a charismatic British student named Hugh. Again in this portrayal of the future, we see single-purpose screens on the landline telephones in the kitchens/offices/bedrooms of the Simpson household and surrounds. (It seems that video phones were a popular idea in the late 80s – mid 90s.) One noticeable scene featured Hugh making a call on a wristwatch cellphone.
Having articles of clothing that double as a communication device isn’t a new concept. It wasn’t even new when the Simpsons did this in ’95. ‘Get Smart’ had Maxwell Smart using a shoe phone back in the 1960’s. Something about this idea just seemed cool. To a 1995 audience, many of whom wouldn’t have even seen a cell phone at that point, the idea of being able to call someone on a device small enough to fit on your wrist would have been an amazing, fantastical idea. Jump forward to April 2015, and Apple launch the watch. A watch that could not only make a receive phone calls, but help us get fit, find our way, stay in touch and much much more!
As well as watch-phones and video calling, this episode featured men playing virtual bar sports (Pool, darts). Virtual reality has been a pipe dream for a long time now, and there have been many attempts to get it right. One much maligned failure was that of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy from 1995. The console was discontinued nearly a year after its first release. Fast forward 20 years and Google developed Google Cardboard®, a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in VR and VR applications. As well as this, Oculus VR raised $2.5million on crowd-sourcing website, Kickstarter. Billed as the “next generation of virtual reality” and “like nothing you’ve ever experienced before”, Oculus Rift is set for release in the first quarter of 2016.
So, with all these advancements in technology, it gets me thinking about what I can expect from the future. Virtual reality gaming gets me really excited with regards to simulation style games. The advancements in console capabilities and graphics continue to astound me. As I mentioned at the outset of this blog, when I was a kid, the 8 bit graphics of the Sega Master System were, at the time, as good as it gets. Now, however, I get blown away every time I play Grand Theft Auto V simply due to its groundbreaking graphics.
I was recently in a home electronics store and was simply floored by the 4K televisions you can get these days. Screens so crisp and crystal clear that they almost look realer then real life. I remember having the same reaction to the first DVD I ever saw. It was at my brothers house, and it was ‘The Perfect Storm’ and on his rear projection television, the scene where the wave swells up behind the boat was just unbelievable to my 12 year old eyes.
As well as entertainment, I’m excited by what is coming in other areas of technology. The capabilities of my mobile phone, compared to one of the first mobiles I ever owned (Nokia 3315), are incredible. If I could go back to the 14 year old me and tell them everything that my iPhone lets me do, he wouldn’t believe me. Sometime I don’t even believe it myself. My iPhone lets me instantly be connected with the world, in so much more than a stand phone ever could. Not only does it video call (FaceTime) but lets me share photos and videos with friends and family right across the world. I can look up any piece of information I want/need within seconds (this comes in handy when watching movies or tv, and seeing what other things actors/directors/writers have done). My phone also lets me take professional quality photos and video, and edit them before uploading them. My phone also helps me get around, with its inbuilt GPS and mapping applications, I can look up where I need to go, and have it give me turn by turn directions. Oh, and it also plays music. And movies. And books. And games. It truly is an amazing device, and I honestly can’t imagine what Apple will do with the next iPhone. I’m sure they’ll think of something that nobody expects.
Medical advancements continue to amaze me. The way that science has improved life, and the quality of life for so many over the past 10-20 years is phenomenal. I recently read an article about a firefighter, who had his face burned off after burning house fell on him, receiving a complete face transplant. There was a story out of Brisbane, where surgeons reattached the skull of a child whose neck had separated from his head in an accident. Whilst the headline “Surgeons Reattach Head” sounds unbelievable, it is important to note that the skin wasn’t broken, and the head wasn’t actually removed, it was all internal. That being said, however, it is still an impressive achievement and a huge breakthrough in medical science.
Last, but not least, I would like to know what YOU look forward to in the future. Is there an invention that needs to be made to make your life complete? (For me, I would LOVE a microwave that makes things cold in the same amount of time our current microwaves make things hot.) Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,