It's Back to the Future Day. Where is my Hoverboard?

Image result for Back to the Future, Part II
The settings on Doc Brown's Time Machine at the start of Back to the Future, Part II.

It's the day fans of the flick, Back to the Future, Part II have long awaited.  The question is, how close are we to the cool things depicted in the movie?  Do any exist in our 2015 reality, hopefully hoepfully unaffected by Marty's and Doc Brown's fiddling around with the space/time continuum back in 1955?

Thankfully, as weird as some fashions seem today, the clothes in the movie haven't made the scene. . . yet.

How about hoverboards and flying cars?  Well, sorta.  Not in production, but definitely in development.

Credit: Image courtesy of Ithaca

College Professor Matthew Sullivan
levitates a DeLorean figurine
using superconductors.
According to Matthew C. Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ithaca College and superconductor researcher, "We're probably closer to being able to create a transportation system that's levitating than we are to creating personal automobiles that can both fly and drive."

Though the hover technology in the fictional time-travel series is never detailed, it would be entirely feasible, if unlikely, with technology today, Sullivan said -- as long as there were a lot of properly cooled superconductors in our rides and magnets in our roads, or vice versa.

"The only thing that seems a little crazy at this time is being able to hover over any particular surface that you want. That I'm not clear on how we would do," he said.

Earlier this year, engineers from automaker Lexus hit social media gold with videos and commercials showing off their Slide hoverboard, which makes use of superconductors but can only be ridden in their specialized skate park in Spain.
*  *  *  *  *

'Back to the Future' Hoverboard Really Floats
A California startup has designed what's considered to be the first real consumer hoverboard. As AP's Haven Daley reports, the floating board was inspired by the fictional gadget in the film "Back to the Future." 
(Video by AP)
*  *  *  *  *

Sullivan's own demonstrations, in which he sends a small puck made of superconducting material around a track made of magnets, are smaller in scale but no less impressive. He was even featured on "The Colbert Report" in 2011 levitating a carton of Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream ice cream and on the Travel Channel in 2013 talking about possibilities for future roller coasters.

"If we can find superconductors that work at room temperature, or even dry ice temperatures, you'll find an explosion and a revolution in how electronic circuitry works, how electric power is transmitted from power plants to homes, and how power is transmitted inside cities," Sullivan said.

3-D without 3-D glasses?

Credit: TriLite 
The billboard of the future?  A large-
scale glasses-free 3-D display.

Marty McFly, the protagonist of the movie "Back to the Future Part II," uses a time machine to travel from the year 1985 to October 21st, 2015. where he experiences a terrifying 3D shark that appears to jump out to get him. Back in the 80s, no viable concepts for such a 3D display technology existed. But today, this technology is within reach.

A first prototype has been developed by TriLite Technologies and TU Wien a few months ago. Each 3D pixel (called "TrixelTM") consists of a laser and a moveable mirror. The mirror directs the laser beams across the field of vision, from left to right. During that movement the image information is changed. With this basic idea, different pictures can be sent to the viewer´s left and right eye, so that a 3D effect is created without the need for 3D glasses.

So, where's my flying car, dude?
Well, it looks like we may several options in the near future as two companies, Aeromobil and Terrafuggia have designs in development.  The AeroMobil company has a model they say will be ready soon.  Here's a video -

Video provided by Newsy

Flying car for the masses set for take Off
Two years ago aviation company Terrafugia unveiled a concept version of a flying car. Unlike its current flying car, which is designed for pilots, the new design incorporates autonomous functionality, a move the company says will open up the skies to everybody, pilots license not required.

Reuters / Powered by

Personally, the flying car anyone can drive is something I'd love to try and even own (if I can afford it).  Both company estimate one of their flying cars will cost a whole bunch - no surprise there. (100,000 to 200,000 Euros.)

Related stories:
Story Source:

  1. Materials provided by Ithaca College.  Ithaca College. "Where are the hoverboards? Professor says not too far off." ScienceDaily, 20 October 2015.
  2. Materials provided by Vienna University of Technology. Jörg Reitterer, Franz Fidler, Gerhard Schmid, Thomas Riel, Christian Hambeck, Ferdinand Saint Julien-Wallsee, Walter Leeb, Ulrich Schmid. Design and evaluation of a large-scale autostereoscopic multi-view laser display for outdoor applications. Optics Express, 2014


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