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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Back to the Future Day Grant Imahara

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED. October 21, 2015, the “future date” Doc Brown brought Marty and Jennifer to in Back to the Future part II. But instead of the bleak, dystopian future made popular by films like Blade Runner and The Terminator, Robert Zemeckis and his team showed us a brightly colored, sunny Hill Valley (albeit with the occasional scheduled rain shower). A seemingly prophetic future filled with endless movie sequels presented in 3D, and the long-cursed Cubs finally winning a World Series. But what other Back to the Future predictions have seemingly come true? We may not have flying cars, but we DO have…


Hoverboards –

Let’s just get this one out of the way up front. We do not YET have consumer-level hoverboards. At least not in the way shown in the film. But this was definitely the first thing that captured the audience’s attention when the movie came out. Despite the many hoaxes that have popped up recently, several companies have taken it upon themselves to bring this coveted fantasy toy into reality. But to be honest, we’re still a long way off on this one.



Biometric Identification –

When the Police brought the dazed Jennifer Parker to her (future) home, all they needed was her thumbprint identification to bring her inside. This technology is definitely here today, keeping our laptops and phones secure, and soon, we will be able to use our own heartbeats as identification with products such as the Nymi band!


Drones –

Drones seem to be everywhere, nowadays, and not just taking photos for future 2015 USA Today. Whether used for security, filming, or even delivering packages, UAVs have become increasingly more common in our present 2015 life. Now if I could just build one for on-demand pizza, I MAY have a great side-business on my hands…



Flat Screen TVs, Touch Displays, and Video Calls –

When Back to the Future part II first premiered in 1989, television sets were still in the large CRT phase. Nowadays, flat-panel plasma and LCD displays abound. Video phones were around, but the screen size was tiny, and rather than video, it was more like a frustrating series of still images. Touch technology was around as well, but was more of a novelty rather than an everyday interface. Now, in our 2015, most of us take all of these “futuristic” innovations for granted, since we carry them all in our pocket.



Wearable Technology –

In 2015, Marty and Jennifer’s future children all have their eyes glued to a tiny screen, rather than interact with their parents (another thing many parents may say the movie predicted), but instead of phones, they wear special JVC video glasses. In our 2015, Google Glass has already arrived (and went?) with Oculus Rift and other wearable technology right around the corner.


The movie may not have hit the mark exactly on many of its future predictions, but it’s certainly stood the test of time. So fire up your 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of the movie, grab a Pepsi Perfect and let me know YOUR favorite Back to the Future inventions in the comments!

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Well known in the engineering community, Imahara has paired his engineering expertise with a Hollywood TV and film career. In addition to his roles on Mythbusters and Battlebots, Imahara is the inventor behind many famous robotic characters - including the Star Wars prequel-era R2-D2, The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson sidekick -Geoff Peterson, the talking robot, and the rhythmic arms on the modern day Energizer Bunny. Up to his untimely and tragic death Grant was Mouser’s beloved spokesperson and brand ambassador who shared Mouser's passion to positively influence and support innovative design. 

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