Over the weekend, I saw a program that compared the marvels of technology from the film “Back to the Future II” with what has actually come to pass. The film, released in 1989, looked at what we could expect 25 five years out, or in 2015, through the eyes of its hero, Marty McFly. Well, we are nearly there and in position to take inventory of the forecast and what was actually delivered.
- Hoverboards – Not surprising that this did not come about since the cost of such a board would have prevented widespread adoption, and the concept was really a play on the lead character’s prowess with skateboards.
- Flying Cars – They have been projected for years and, other than prototypes and some special applications, have not been commercialized.
- Dehydrated Pizza – The concept was that a pizza would be about four inches in diameter and placed into a special oven. The oven would, within seconds, cook the pizza delivering it at 12 inches and hot.
- 3D Movies – They got this partially right. Movies are again being made in 3D, but the Jaws Shark on the marquee was a 3D projection vs. the movie itself.
- Giant Screen TVs – Our love for viewing entertainment through devices continues. In fact, while TVs have gotten larger, viewing video on ever smaller devices is also growing.
- Tablets – Marty is asked to sign a tablet that looks similar to devices used today.
This list could go on a lot longer, but what I found most interesting in comparing “Back to the Future II” to today was which industry more than fulfilled its promise of changing the way we work, learn and play. Telecommunications wins hands-down (okay, I am a little biased). Consider that with the advent of wireless technology, we are able to communicate from nearly anywhere with nearly anyone. And given the incredible increase in access speeds and quality of broadband, real-time applications sourced from anywhere on the planet are now possible. Finally, telecommunications is influencing the world of computing through the creation of the smartphone. Over 60% of US wireless subscribers have a smartphone and they use it for much more than making phone calls. In the US, 80% of smartphone usage does not involve making calls, and this number reaches 90% in Europe.
Yesterday, while attending the Wireless Symposium 2014 produced by NTCA, I was on a panel that was asked about the future applications and services from the cloud and wireless technology. I didn’t get a chance to answer, and the other panelists were more comfortable discussing standards and infrastructure changes instead of new, undeveloped applications. However, I think I’ll give an answer here on Friday after I attend the Consumer Electronic Show. That will definitely give me a glimpse of the future and, potentially, where telecom and IP communications can take us – with or without a hoverboard.