October 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day, the date that Marty McFly, Jennifer Parker and Doctor Emmett Brown travel to in the second Back to the Future film. Except for a few key oversights (the internet, mobile phones) and some rather ambitious future predictions (flying cars, hoverboards), aspects of the world dreamt up by the writer Bob Gale are not far off reality. In this article we examine some of the Back to the Future technology using the SciVal Trends module* to see what's arrived in time.
91,079 publications worldwide
University of Waterloo in Canada not only publishes a significant number of papers on Automation, but they are viewed the most per paper in Scopus globally. Potentially a rising star in the area.
Scholarly Output = circle size.
Color = views per publication.
Back to the Future: Remote controlled bins, dog walkers, TV waiters
Reality: Self-service check-outs, Self-service petrol stations (but without the robots from Back to the Future)
Top keyphrases from SciVal: Models, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence
8,442 publications worldwide
Highest cited article written between 2010 – 2014 on wearables:
Hu, L., Pasta, M., La Mantia, F. et al, Stretchable, porous, and conductive energy textiles (2010), Nano Letters, 10 (2), pp. 708-714.
They are researching into lightweight, flexible, and wearable electronics to meet the technological demands of modern society.
Back to the Future: Self-tying shoes, self-drying and adjusting jackets, virtual reality glasses
Reality: Health applications and rehabilitation (monitoring recovery) are the main applications being researched. Mainstream wearables are commonly wrist worn (think Apple Watch, Fitbit, Jawbone), with others still to be widespread (Google Glass). Clothing with wearable technology is being heavily researched, but we are still far from the Back to the Future vision, although rumors are that Nike are working hard on self-tying shoes.
Top keyphrases from SciVal: Sensors, Wearable computers, Monitoring, Accelerometer
14,945 publications worldwide
US institutions are dominating the field in both article output (4,879) and FWCI (1.52)**
Back to the Future: Doc had a full blood transfusion, hair repair and replacement of spleen and colon in a rejuvenation clinic
Reality: Modern medicine can help prolong life, but such drastic medical procedures are not mainstream. But some say that common elective cosmetic procedures, such as Botox, may make you feel younger.
Top keyphrases from SciVal: Alzheimer Disease, Longevity, Geriatric Assessment
12,013 publications worldwide
Highest cited article written between 2010 – 2014 on biometrics:
Hansen, D.W., Ji, Q. from the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. In the eye of the beholder: a survey of models for eyes and gaze (2010). IEEE transactions on pattern analysis and machine intelligence, 32 (3), pp. 478-500.
Top performer in the field
King Saud University, Saudi Arabia published 90 papers on biometrics in the past 5 years, second only to Harvard.
The impact of their recent papers over 2.5 times the world average.
Publications co-authored with institutions in other countries.
Back to the Future: Eye and fingerprint scanners for ID and (instead of doorknobs), voice recognition
Reality: Eye and fingerprint scanners for ID (but not instead of doorknobs in most households). Voice commands (think Apple's Siri, Google Voice Search and Microsoft's Cortana)
Top keyphrases from SciVal: Authentication, Facial Recognition, Feature Extraction
2,932 publications worldwide
Although there is a very small amount of research on flying cars, most is on small scale VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicles such as drones.
No hoverboards though.
Top keyphrases from SciVal: Helicoptors, Rotors, Wings
* The SciVal Trends module allows you to analyze the research trends of any Research Area with citation and usage data, to discover the top performers and rising stars.
Find out more at elsevier.com/solutions/scival
** Field-weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) is a citation measure that normalizes for size, field and publication-type. World average is always 1.0, so anything higher than 1.0 is above world average.
More details can be found in the SciVal Metrics Guidebook
All data comes from SciVal – Oct 9, 2015 (Scopus data up to Sept 21, 2015).