Back to the Future day: inventions that changed our lives

In the 1989 hit movie Back to the future 2, Doc and Marty travelled to October 21, 2015. Nearly 30 years on we look at the technology hit and misses.

If you’re old enough to remember the 80s, the idea of the future conjured ideas of flying cars, holograms and hover boards.

Fast forward almost three decades and technology has certainly changed the way we work, exercise and even eat.

We explore the weird and wonderful inventions from the revolutionising to those that never got off the ground.

The hoverboard

That famous hoverboard chase started a buzz around the idea of wheel-free skating.

But University of Queensland theoretical physicist Professor Ben Powell says despite a number of attempts a hoverboard is a long way off.

“The working hover boards you may have seen on the internet levitate by using superconductors and magnets, similar to the way a maglev train works,” Professor Powell says.

“While this is great technology, these boards require a superconducting surface to levitate above and they don’t have the abilities to change directions or accelerate and brake in mid air.”

While we may not be scooting around on hoverboards - segways and robotic mobility platforms have become a popular way to scoot through crowds. 

boy on segway

Flying cars

Perhaps the most iconic version of ‘the future’ was the idea of a flying car. Sadly, it’s only aircraft and birds soaring above traffic jams at the moment, but experts say flying cars can exist.

According to University of Queensland mechatronics lecturer Dr Paul Pounds these vehicles are more like small planes that can taxi a little faster.

“The problem with flying cars is they need enormous amounts of energy to fly, particularly if they have a vertical take-off and landing feature like in the film,” says Dr Pounds.

Dog walking drones

This has actually happened. A New York videographer programmed a drone to walk his dog and true to form, he even filmed it.

While there is no evidence it’s suitable for everyday use, it must have given the neighbours something to talk about.

drone flying in the sky

The pizza hydrator 

It’s probably a good thing the movie’s pizza hydrator, which transformed a tiny ball of dough into a 15 inch piping hot pizza in seconds, isn’t a common kitchen appliance.

 But technology in the kitchen has come a long way, with all-in-one kitchen machines that can cook, process, cut, blend and weigh our food.

Smartphones

Probably the biggest miss in the movie was the absence of smartphones.

Who would have thought you could walk around with a mobile video phone, with access to information from all over the world, that’s also a music player, global positioning system and electronic diary?

Bupa Blue Room resident fitness instructor Natasha Dinneen says smartphones have not only changed the way we communicate, but how we keep in shape.

 “You can map your workout, track your progress, keep a food diary and even have friendly competition with your friends online,” she says.

“Anywhere you are you can incorporate activity into your life with a wide variety of exercise videos and tutorials available at the touch of your finger,” says Dinneen.

The future

When you consider how much technology has changed our lives in the past three decades, just imagine what 2050 could look like.

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