Celebrate Back to the Future Day with SciVal


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.

Automation 2010-2014

91,079 publications worldwide

Section two dog graphic

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.

Section two main graphic

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

Wearables 2010-2014

8,442 publications worldwide

Section three ring graphic

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.

463 citations

Section three main graphic

Back to the Future: Self-tying shoes, self-drying and adjusting jackets, virtual reality glasses

Section three glasses graphic

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

Aging 2010-2014

14,945 publications worldwide

US institutions are dominating the field in both article output (4,879) and FWCI (1.52)**

Section four main image

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

Biometrics 2010-2014

12,013 publications worldwide

Section five watch graphic

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.

329 citations

Section five graph image

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.

International Collaboration

Publications co-authored with institutions in other countries.

Section five graph 2 image

Section five istitution table image

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

Hover 2010-2014

2,932 publications worldwide

Section six car graphic

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.

Section six main graphic

Top keyphrases from SciVal: Helicoptors, Rotors, Wings


Section seven background

* 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).