Sorry, Doc and Marty — Check Back in 2020
As we await Marty and Doc’s arrival tonight at 4:29 pm PST, you’ll no doubt read at least one listicle highlighting what Back to the Future Part II got right about tech in 2015. But unless 2015 Hill Valley was meant to stand in for today’s SOMA or Palo Alto, the truth is, our world hasn’t quite caught up with where (when?) Marty landed.
While the video calls and voice controlled computers are here, their real, 2015 execution remains clunky and unevenly distributed. You can’t shake a stick in Silicon Valley and not hit someone who has access to, and uses, both of those technologies with ease, but for the majority of the consumer market, these nascent tools remain too complicated, too unreliable, and too novel to use in everyday life.
In contrast, watch how calmly everyone but Marty goes about their lives assisted by these technologies, interacting with or ignoring them altogether with a nonchalance that we now have for the supercomputers in our pockets, but can’t feign when we see a hologram of Tupac.
So, sorry about that, Doc and Marty — we haven’t quite caught up with you yet. But we’re close: many of the items checked off on the “things they got right” lists are just about five years or so away from reaching the casual consumer. They also happen to be one of the many areas I’m waiting with bated breath to find, including:
- (Better) Video Conference Calls: Skype, Citrix, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and the rest of the field do a decent job at the basics. Luckily, our interactions aren’t limited to just one-on-ones. We’re looking for next-generation connectivity tools that enable us to conduct more personal interactions in more natural ways
- Smarter AI for Better Virtual Personal Assistants, starting with better context persistence and natural language processing. It’s hard to remember to rely on somebody, especially a disembodied presence, to guide you through your day-to-day if you have to bring up full context for every little interaction
- Tech to Power the Wearables to Come, including bottomless batteries, and next-generation human-computer interfaces — because face it, fiddling with buttons and screens is inconvenient, and yelling out “Hey Siri,” or “Ok, Glass” will always be pretty weird
So if your startup thinks it’s getting any of the above right, or fit into any of the verticals we’ve further outlined here, let’s get in touch.