October 21st, 2015 marks the fictitious date when Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker climbed into the DeLorean time machine and traveled back to the future to help their kids.
A lot has been written about many of the accurate predictions made in the film about the technologies we use today. So I’ve decided to climb into a time machine myself and give you a glimpse of a (potential) future for technology 15 years from now.
Get ready for Back to Future Part IV where you’ll learn what cool gadgets kids will use in 2030.
One memorable scene from Back to the Future Part II features a flat screen smart TV mounted on the living room wall that is also used for conference calls. If this might be a familiar sight in most homes today, 15 years from now our kids will not know what a 4K TV screen is.
In the future, I believe television sets will disappear completely and will be replaced by multi-screen tiled displays.
We are already seeing the migration towards extremely slim, frameless flat panels and flexible screens; this helps set the stage for tiled displays.
Whilst building tiled displays today is prohibitively expensive, technological improvements and mass-market adoption will continue to erode the price of such display methods. This demonstration from Cisco NDS shows how this technology could finds its way into our future living room.
In Back to the Future Part II, Doc Brown tells Marty “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads” as he starts up his upgraded flying car. While hover conversion is some decades away, I believe by 2030 most young adults won’t have a driver’s license or won’t know what traffic lights are.
The future of transportation is based on self-driving cars. We’re already seeing the first signs of autopilot functionality enabled on high-end Tesla models. In addition, since all autonomous vehicles will be equipped with state-of-the art, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications technology, they will be able to talk to one another, therefore removing the need for traffic lights.
Manual driving will probably still exist in the form of a hobby for enthusiasts – think going fishing with your grandpa.
The hardware for self-driving cars is already here, today. This year, Mobileye announced EyeQ4, a new chip built on a many-core architecture designed for computer vision processing in ADAS applications (i.e. collision detection and avoidance). EyeQ4 delivers the kind of performance you’d expect from a super-computer (2.5 TFLOPS) at an amazingly low 3 watts of power.
However, the automotive industry is usually quite slow when it comes to mass market adoption; so even if we’ll find the EyeQ4 inside many luxury models of 2018-2020, it will take at least a decade (or maybe more) until autonomous driving becomes fully pervasive.
Back to the Future Part II has some pretty cool mobile hardware, from tablets to wearable VR and fingerprint readers.
All of these exist today – but the future of mobile lies beyond the traditional rectangular slab or bulky headset.
I believe that the rapid pace of innovation in fields like foldable displays or silicon manufacturing will create new and improved mobile devices that will change the way we interact with technology.
The smartphone of 2030 will most likely be a true pocket calculator; completely bezel-less, thin as a credit card, and lasting days on a single (wireless) charge.
For augmented and virtual reality, the future belongs to smart, ambient light-powered contact lenses that will provide a new sensory experience to the user. Presently prototyped mainly for medical use cases (e.g. glucose readings), these lenses could easily include more advanced chips that would provide similar functionality to current-generation smart glasses.
October 21st, 2030
In the future, I firmly believe technology (or the way we perceive it today) will disappear from our lives.
Just like we instinctively turn on a light bulb today and expect it to run on electricity, the kids of tomorrow will look at an everyday object like a jacket or a chair and know it has a chip inside.