21 Oct Will self-checkouts ever speak like Michael Jackson?
It’s been over a quarter of a century since Marty McFly stepped into the DeLorean time machine to pay us a visit on October 21st 2015. However, things haven’t gone exactly to plan – or the way that Marty experienced it the first time round.
There really aren’t many people using fax machines anymore – instead the go to of communications technology is of course mobile phones. There’s also sadly nowhere to eat where a virtual Michael Jackson will take our order for fajitas. In fact, many of us still prefer to be served by a person at the supermarket rather than wrestle with the self-checkouts.
So how would Marty McFly feel about the technological innovations that we have made? As a technical PR company, we’re always researching and marketing the latest gadgets – we’re desperate to know what brilliant inventions the future will bring to our desks. We guessed that now is the ideal time to find out, and managed to catch up with Marty before he disappeared into an explosion of lasers, fire and smoke.
Ed: Hi Marty McFly, it’s a pleasure to meet you and thank you for coming back to the future to meet us.
Marty: It’s a pleasure to be here. Again.
Ed: Quite. On that note, let’s start by asking, is 2015 how you remembered it?
Marty: No way. It’s way different. Where are all the flying cars and the self-tying shoes? I was looking forward to seeing Jaws 19, so I was gutted to see that it finished at Jaws Revenge – what happened to the rest of them?
Ed: We’ve moved on….
Marty: You call Sharknado progress?
Ed: Ahem. Maybe not. What else is different?
Marty: What happened to all the hoverboards? I at least thought you’d have those by now!
Ed: Well, we’ve got the Swegway…
Marty: Yeah, but you’re not allowed to actually ride them are you? Did you see that story about the cop who got busted for riding one in London, England?
Ed: Very true. We see you’ve discovered hyperlinks though. You completely didn’t see the Internet coming when you first came back to the future did you?
Marty: Yeah, you’ve got me there. I have to say this Internet thing is neat. Much better than the dust-repellent paper the first time I came to 2015.
Ed: You missed out on mobile phones too…
Marty: True, but we did have flying cars, self-tying shoes and hoverboards. Did I mention that?
Ed: You might have. OK, so what DID you actually get right?
Marty: Well, we had something very like your Google Glass devices, with things like built-in cameras and even something very much like your Interweb…
Ed: It’s Internet…
Marty: Yeah, Internet. Plus we also had plasma screen TVs, 3D movies and even video calls, which I think you guys call Skype? As I’ve been here once already, I’ve had a good 25 years to teach my parents how to use it.
Ed: Useful. So apart from flying cars, self-tying shoes and hoverboards, what one thing are you surprised we don’t have in our version of 2015?
Marty: Well, I think automatic dog walkers were a pretty great idea. And self-drying jackets, which would save you guys a fortune on tumble-drying. There were also remote control litter bins that could empty themselves.
Ed: Aha! Now that we might be able to do. There’s a plan to use the Internet of Things in Milton Keynes so that dustbins can tell the local council when they need emptying.
Marty: Err yeah, that’s great. Real cutting-edge stuff. Let’s hope you find some other things to do with it too.
Ed: Like what?
Marty: No idea. Hey, how about I go find out and come back and tell you in 25 years.
Ed: Any room in that time machine for a passenger?
Marty: Nope. Sorry. Flux capacitor is taking up all the room. Cheerio. See you on 21st October 2040.
Ed: Give our love to Jennifer and the kids. And say hi to Doc for us. Oh, you’ve gone…
It would seem that Marty wasn’t all that enthralled with the advances we’ve made or perhaps he was feeling slightly bitter that he didn’t predict the rise of smart phone technology and social media…
If you’d like to experience just how far we’ve come since the decade of Back to the Future’s conception just take a look at how clunky the original Macintosh was in 1984 and then take a look at your iPad. Weighing 16.5 pounds, the original Mac had just 128k of memory and was cited for user-friendly developments such as its pull down menus, mouse and icons.
The first mobile phone also made its debut in 1984, weighed nearly 11 pounds and needed a car to be charged. We like things much lighter in 2015, and with the average memory of a smartphone at 16GB (that’s one thousand million bytes in comparison to the original Mac’s one thousand) we can only begin to imagine what the capabilities of mobile technology will be in another 25 years’ time.
In fact, the closest way of experiencing the destabilising effect of time-travel is to visit the National Musuem of Computing in Milton Keynes. Here you can awe at the size and mass of the first laptops as well as the first stored-program digital computer of the 1950s, the ‘WITCH’. We highly recommend a visit, but in the mean-time we’ll be waiting here patiently for Marty to come back and report from the future.