It’s October 21st 2015 – the day that Marty and Doc travelled to in Back to the Future II – so we now have flying cars, instant-cook ovens and dog-walking collars, right?
Er… maybe not quite. However, the films did make a lot of correct predictions. Here’s what security and storage experts had to say about what the films got right, and how technology in our industry has developed compared to what the film predicted.
1. We don’t have flying cars, BUT we do have connected 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, while the use of identity driven payment systems has also taken off, 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.”
"Over 51 per cent of businesses have employees wearing technology to the office, although I doubt employees will be sporting self-drying jackets any time soon."
2. Wearable tech isn’t quite there yet, but it’s improving
"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," said Michael Hack, Senior Vice President EMEA Operations at Ipswitch.
"We aren’t quite there yet, but in our recent survey we conducted amongst IT professionals in Europe, Ipswitch found this is changing fast. The survey revealed that over 51 per cent 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.”
3. ‘The way Biff pays for his taxi cab ride has some inherent security flaws’
Ryan O’Leary, Sr. Director of Threat Research Centre at WhiteHat Security, said: "The way Biff pays for his taxi cab ride has some inherent security flaws so there would be major issues for companies to adopt such a payment system.
"Anyone who has used biometric readers on their tablet or phone know they’re inherently fussy, but even if you can get the technology right all your requiring is someone’s finger prints. Unfortunately it’s more then simple to fool these fingerprint scanners and I would need just a few household items to lift a fingerprint, put it on a latex glove and buy my cab ride using someone’s discarded soda can.
“The good news is that we have come along way in the cashless transaction world and it’s easier than ever to pay for goods and services without the need for cash. If you’ve ever used Uber you know that you don’t even need a credit card to pay for the fare, it’s automatically added to your credit card, which is both simple for the driver and passenger, and more secure for both parties.
O’Leary added: "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. This allows for better security then just a fingerprint, as you need both the Apple device with your account on it as well as your fingerprint or code. Perhaps in remakes, old Biff should be sporting an Apple Watch to make his taxi cab purchase!"
"The way Biff pays for his taxi cab ride has some inherent security flaws so there would be major issues for companies to adopt such a payment system."
4. Tablets and video conferencing are here and now
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.”
10/21/15! The Future is NOW! Doc Brown has a special message just for you. #BTTF2015
5. Like the movie, the world we live in is a data-connected one
Paul Prince, CTO of Mangstor, commented: "Back to the Future predicted a data connected world with video chats, virtual reality visors and wearable tech. We have now reached that ‘Future’ date, and while talking jackets aren’t all that common, the world we live in is most definitely a data connected one that moves incredibly fast, and people’s thirst for information is insatiable.
"Unlike Marty McFly, we may not put on high-tech specs (sorry Google Glass) or talk to our jackets; but the speed in which people obtain and use data has definitely changed the world and will continue to do so. Finding and serving up a granular piece of data to the right user at the right time is the end game for IT.
"Marketing teams will always be looking to predict which color of talking jackets will be popular 30 days or three years from now. Making good decisions based on these predictions can mean big profits. But it requires finding trends hidden in the waves of big data all around us.
"No matter the year, the outlook seems clear that the bottleneck in acquiring, accessing and analyzing information will be the performance of data storage and the network providing access to that data. That’s exactly the problem Mangstor is focused on solving. Getting more out of your data center will never go out of style."
6. And the award for the most tenuous link between Back to the Future and a company’s services goes to…
David Fisk EMEA Sales Director at Quorum.
He said: "Marty McFly may have run out of plutonium and ended up stranded in 1989, resorting to using a lightning bolt to gather the speed needed to recover his journey. However, technology has come along way and businesses should not start on a journey without a backup plan.
"How much easier would it have been if Marty could have just pulled out an extra barrel of plutonium from his car boot? The reality is that now businesses can have a disaster recovery plan in place for this. So it may not be plutonium, but with disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), offering instant backup and business continuity, businesses can go back and recover any data they need.
"It’s no longer enough for businesses to rely on a backup plan, what if Marty was a second too late and lightning had already struck the tower? Businesses need to have strategy in place that ensures applications, critical data, servers and even the user interface is all backed up and easily restored ensuring business continuity."
Okay David, we’ll let you have that one, just for the balls.
"How much easier would it have been if Marty could have just pulled out an extra barrel of plutonium from his car boot? The reality is that now businesses can have a disaster recovery plan in place for this. So it may not be plutonium, but with disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), businesses can recover data."
7. Don’t forget the hoverboards and drones
Lexus has made a real, working hoverboard, but it’s not mass-produced, and as far as we’re aware, Mattel has no plans to make a real working pink hoverboard like the one from the movies. Boo.
Also, drones are a reality. In the second Back to the Future film, a ‘USA Today’ branded drone camera takes a picture of Biff outside the courthouse.
Great Scott! Look at the time – things are getting heavy. We had better get PCR magazine to press.
We’ll see you in the future.