Monday, October 26, 2015

Back to the Future today

The hoverboard from the film
In my last post I wrote about using predictions of future technology in lessons. But this week, my students reminded me of "predictions" made in the 1989 film, Back to the Future II, in which time traveler Marty McFly travels from 1985 into the future, arriving on October 21, 2015.

Throughout the film he encounters changes of the 21st century - some, for example, were fairly accurate:
  • self-tying shoelaces
  • wearable technology
  • video calls
  • hands-free gaming
  • tablet computers
  • robot car fuelling
  • fingerprint recognition

But some were not quite right:
  • flying cars
  • power clothing
  • fax machines everywhere

See descriptions of these in an article from The Telegraph:

But the innovation my students found most interesting was the hoverboard - a 21st century flying version of the skateboard.

My students discussed the feasability of such an innovation, and then we looked at various sources to see if such a device will be possible - and how soon.

It seems that Lexus has created a hoverboard  that uses magnetic levitation with liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and permanent magnets to give the hoverboard "frictionless movement."

The Lexus hoverboard

See an article at:

Then there is the Hendover Hoverboard, funded on Kickstarter, which has a disc-shaped hover engine. "These engines induce an opposing magnetic field in the surface substrate below that provides lift, levitating the board off the ground."

The Hendo hoverboard


Then there is the "One-Wheeled Gyro Skate" which doesn't fly, but "uses gyroscopes like a Segway to help you balance with your feet on either side of one giant rollerblade-style wheel in the center."

The One-Wheeled Gyro Skate


For further news on "how close we are to riding real hoverboards," also see the following article from USA Today:

My students discussed the pros and cons of each of these designs, and indicated which one they would most like to try out. Even more interesting, they gave their input on how they would design a hoverboard or change any of the designs we discussed.

There are many articles now on the internet about the innovations of this film, and how close the predictions made in the film are to the present day October 21, 2015.

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