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Tech March, 5 2014

5 ‘Back to the Future’ Technologies that We Wish Existed Today

By now, you’re probably well aware of the Hoverboard phenomenon that is sweeping the world that came to prominence yesterday when a video produced by a company aptly titled HUVr released a clip featuring a number of celebrities allegedly enjoying the use of hover technology – of course made famous by Marty McFly in Back to the Future II. While it’s relatively clear that we’re dealing with a viral marketing ploy of sorts, it remains to be seen what product or event we’re subliminally being asked to get excited for – whether that be a Back to the Future reboot or merely another Tony Hawk video game. Regardless, it got our collective imaginations working so we delved further into the ingenuity contained in the Robert Zemeckis classic for further products we pined for from the franchise.

One should note that more than a few items have already come to fruition. This includes wall-mounted televisions, wireless video gaming, handheld tablet computers, a baseball team in Miami, video conferencing, thumb technology (much like how Square works), and video glasses (Google glass). Here are five more we wish brilliant minds would get cranking on.

Power Laces

Rejoice! These are reportedly not too far off according to Nike legend Tinker Hatfield who got both sneakerheads and science enthusiasts riled up when he promised them by 2015.

Flying Cars

Let’s get this out of the way first. Of course we want time travel, but as the proverb says, “sometimes you’ve gotta learn to walk before you learn to run.” And in this case, fly and time travel. On May 7, 2013, Terrafugia announced the TF-X, a plug-in hybrid tilt-rotor vehicle that would be the first fully autonomous flying car. It has a range of 500 miles per flight and batteries are rechargeable by the engine. It is likely that TF-X will be more expensive than a “normal car” due to the higher costs of enabling lightweight materials, but with investment in automotive scale production, early studies indicate that it is possible that the final price point could be on-par with very high-end luxury cars of today. It is expected to hit the market in 2021

Auto-Drying/Auto-Fitting Jackets

“Size adjusting – Fit………Drying mode on. Jacket drying. Your jacket is now dry.” We’ve been waiting for this to be a reality for sometime now. While waterproof materials have become something we regularly expect from technical garments, there’s little known progress to suggest that bespoke products capable of immediately fitting to one’s body are but a touch of a button away.

Hoverboards

We’d be remiss not to mention hoverboards as we spent the better part of yesterday dreaming about them. At its core, director Robert Zemeckis explained that  “A hoverboard is a board that hovers on magnetic energy. And it works just like a skateboard except that it doesn’t have any wheels and you don’t have to have any pavement.” According to Discovery, this tech invokes thoughts of a Maglev Train – “a technology that employs powerful electromagnets to make trains float over tracks rather than roll – thus reducing friction and allowing for super high speeds.” While this technology does exist on train lines in Shaghai, it’s ludicrous to think that regular pavement will ever be fitted with magnets rooted deep underneath.

The Hydrator Machine

If there’s a way to expedite the way in which we can shove pizza in our mouths, consider us intrigued. Marty McFly famously uses a Black & Decker Hydrator to cook a cookie-sized Pizza Hut pie in a matter of seconds – sheepishly admitting that it was okay to eat it before it was re-hydrated. Despite astronauts utilizing “add-water” products when entering space, it seems like if one is pressed for time, you’re gonna have to settle for a Hot-N-Ready.

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