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    Are We Living In The Future From "Phil Of The Future" Yet? An Investigation

    The fictional future depicted in Disney's Phil of the Future is supposedly exactly 100 years from 2021. Here's how we're pacing.

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    Remember this guy? The titular Phil from Phil of the Future (and he's holding one of his super-duper high-tech devices from the year 2121).

    RIcky Ullman with a remote control
    Disney Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

    It definitely does not look like a McDonald's toy. It totally looks like a real computer. 

    In the classic Disney Channel sitcom, the Diffy family from 2121 (including Phil) get stuck in the year 2004 when their time travel machine breaks down. And so a family with all kinds of futuristic gadgets must rough it in the aughts as they try to blend in with the locals.

    Brenda Song, Ricky Ullman, and Aly Michalka in cheerleading attire
    DIsney Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Imagine us going back to the year 1904 and having to blend in. I'd definitely get caught taking IG pics in my top hat next to a horse. 

    But since we are in the year 2021, a perfect century away from the Diffys' time, I thought it might be a good idea to check in and see how close we are to having the technology they use in the show.

    Ricky Ullman creates another version of himself
    Disney Channel

    Such as the body replicator seen here. 

    So without further ado, an investigation into the technology in Phil of the Future and an analysis as to just how futuristic it actually is.

    Ricky Ullman and Amy Bruckner talk to replicated versions of themselves
    Disney Channel

    1. Time Machine

    Ricky Ullman, Amy Bruckner, Lise Simms and Craig Anton in a colorful time machine
    Disney Channel

    Let's start with the time machine. The Diffys are using it to vacation to the days of cave dwellers and dinosaurs, but it breaks down as they return to 2121, and so they are left stranded in 2004. Apparently the future loves a twinkle light. Also, can we discuss these seatbelts? Interspace travel, and the only thing keeping you locked in looks like the tube on a Camelback water vest? Wild. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Unfortunately, no. We seem to be quite a ways away from time travel technology. So in the meantime, we'll have to settle for those old-timey saloon photo booths. 

    2. Laser Squash

    Craig Anton holds a glowing orb
    Disney Channel

    The sport of the future is indeed squash. Only, now you just use a laser ball and fancy gloves instead of the usual ball and paddles. Phil (Raviv "Ricky" Ullman) and his dad (Craig Anton) bond over their shared love of the sport. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No. But I am getting some big Wii Sports vibes here. I feel like we could have this by 2025 if some of the Shark Tank inventors set their minds to it. 

    3. Spray Food

    Amy Bruckner looks at a cabinet full of spray food
    Disney Channel

    Phil's sister Pim (Amy Bruckner), which is short for Pimilla, BTW, can't cook to save her life, and so she turns to the family's contraband supply of spray food. Simply aim the bottle at a plate, spray, and you've got a meal in seconds. Options include spray turkey, spray spaghetti, and spray kung pao chicken. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Technically, no, but we do have spray cheese and whipped cream, so perhaps the technology is evolving. 

    4. Unification Day

    Ricky Ullman, Craig Anton, and Lise Simms gather around a globe Maypole
    Disney Channel

    In the future, they've got a few new holidays, including Unification Day, which commemorates the day all countries decide to unify and create world peace in 2095. While the special day is not a gift-giving holiday (annoying), it does have some unique traditions, such as singing "Oh Unity" around a globe-topped Maypole (to the tune of "O Christmas Tree") and eating the unity loaf, a meatloaf made out of seven foods from the seven continents. Doesn't sound like that much fun, but a day off work is a day off work, amirite? 

    Do we have it in 2021? No. The closest we've got is Earth Day?

    5. Instamorph

    Lise Simms aims the instamorph at Amy Bruckner
    Disney Channel

    Not to be confused with xenomorphs (which do not appear in this universe), an instamorph is a device that allows you to change your appearance. Pim changes herself into her father in order to avoid chores, and Phil uses it to spy on his friend Keely's crush. Keely Teslow is, of course, played by Aly Michalka, aka half of the renowned pop duo Aly & AJ, whose "Pretty Places" is a BOP. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Absolutely not. 

    6. Skyak

    Craig Anton and Ricky Ullman fly over water on skyaks
    Disney Channel

    Okay, I have a bone to pick with the creators of Phil of the Future on this one. They have flying snowmobile/Jet Ski–type devices in the future, but for whatever reason, they are called "skyaks," which is a play on "kayak," which you power with oars and not an engine. Why didn't they call these devices "jet-skys"? Huh? It took me two minutes to come up with that. Inventors, call me if you need naming help. 

    Do we have it in 2021? I'm gonna say yes. Maybe they don't look exactly alike, but we've got individual flying machines

    7. Hologram Recordings

    A hologram of Amy Bruckner plays in a shed
    Disney Channel

    Pim uses a hologram recording to lure Phil and Keely (Aly Michalka of Aly & AJ fame, the duo behind the dance anthem "Joan of Arc on the Dance Floor") into a shed she will lock to escape chores. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Yes. We've got whole shows with hologram performers in them. Very old technology for 2121, honestly. 

    8. Omnimatic Grabifiers

    Craig Anton hangs from the ceiling using his omnimatic grabifiers
    Disney Channel

    Perhaps the stupidest device from the show. These are gloves that basically allow you to monkey-bar yourself across a ceiling. Phil's dad uses them to get out of the shed when he's painted himself into a corner on the floor. 2021's inventors can skip their work on these and go for some kind of flying shoe instead, I think. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and we don't want it. 

    9. Typing Only

    Aly Michalka stands beside Ricky Ullman, who is holding a poorly written cue card
    Disney Channel

    We learn quickly that Phil has terrible handwriting because in the future, they only type. They never learn handwriting, so Phil is enrolled in second grade to brush up after his poorly written cue cards derail the school news program he works on with Keely (Aly Michalka of the great Aly & AJ, the duo behind the TikTok bop "Potential Breakup Song").

    Do we have it in 2021? We do still teach handwriting in school, but cursive has got the boot from curriculum. Maybe print is the next to go in favor of Mavis Beacon? 

    10. Stunner Device

    Ricky Ullman stuns a fellow student in the hall of his high school
    Disney Channel

    This is basically a fancy stun gun. You aim it at someone and it knocks them out. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Yes. It's a stun gun. 

    11. Shrink Ray

    A tiny, dirty Ricky Ullman stands beside a sink
    Disney Channel

    Okay, folks. I can think of loads of great uses for a shrink ray. Shrinking your dirty son so he can bathe (fully clothed) in your kitchen sink with a load of unwashed dishes is not one of them. Just imagine floating around in hot water, wearing shoes, and getting a piece of half-eaten spaghetti caught on your leg. Bumping into a bit of pork chop grizzle. Some leftover soggy cereal from your sister's bowl caught on your face. I might hurl. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Nope. 

    12. Volume Changer

    Ricky Ullman aims the volume changer at Aly Michalka
    Disney Channel

    Despite the fact that Aly Michalka (of Aly & AJ, who have a great song called "The Distance" you should go listen to right now) is a great singer, her character, Keely, suffers from stage fright, and so Phil uses a volume changer to make her soft voice louder for the audience to hear. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Yes. I believe it's called a microphone, and bafflingly, Keely is already singing into one on the episode. 

    13. Replicants

    Replicant versions of Lise Simms unpack the groceries
    Disney Channel

    Need an extra set of hands to help unpack the groceries? Want someone else to do your homework? Desperately hate playing in your dad's folk band and want a body double to blow the jug instead? Then you're in need of a replicant, which appears to be some kind of temporary clone. LOADS of dicey logistical/ethical issues are at play here that the show DOES NOT address, but the tech seems cool. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No. We did clone that sheep, I guess, and Barbra Streisand cloned her dogs, but no instant human clones. 

    14. DNA Scrambler

    Ricky Ullman with a massive head sits in a classroom
    Disney Channel

    Lots of questions about this device, which you can use to change your appearance into a fun house–mirror version of yourself. Phil uses it to try to scare off a clingy girl (which doesn't even really work), but aside from that, when would you use this? When would you need to look like Megamind? 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and I don't think we need it. If you want to look like this, just botch an iPhone panorama pic

    15. Virtual School Headseat

    Ricky Ullman wears a VR headset
    Disney Channel

    We learn that in the future, instead of in-person school, everyone just watches lessons on a VR headset. (Sounds like COVID days, amirite?) 

    Do we have it in 2021? Technically, this isn't how we do school, but that's probably just because it's a bad idea. As we have learned during the pandemic, online school is not best for everyone. We do have VR headsets, though, so we could do this if need be. 

    16. Penny Missiles

    Amy Bruckner stands beside a garbage can with a penny missile on it
    Disney Channel

    Penny missiles are little tiny rockets you can attach to whatever you feel in the mood to launch. Pim attaches one to a trash can rather than just take out the trash (which seems terrible for the environment, and I don't recommend), but otherwise, these do seem like they could come in handy. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Yes. We have all kinds of missiles. Probably too many. Definitely ones that could launch a trash can over into your neighbor's yard. 

    17. Nose-Recognition Lockbox

    A box with a nose-shaped hole in it
    Disney Channel

    Forget fingerprint scanning or face ID — in the future, they use nose recognition to lock up valuables. On Phil of the Future, Mr. Diffy uses it to lock up future gadgets so Pim won't steal them and work them into her nefarious plans. Ultimately, this security setting doesn't help much, as the kids use "mold-a-nose" to get a prosthetic version of Mr. Diffy's nose while he's sleeping. 

    Do we have it in 2021? I mean, I haven't seen any nose-centric lockboxes, but the tech is there. We unlock our iPhones with our faces. 

    18. Ultrasonic Laser Lights

    Amy Bruckner washes a stack of plates with a crystal light
    Disney Channel

    Truly one of the most baffling inventions on this show. Instead of washing dishes by hand, in the future Pim throws plates into the air, where a magical pink stone somehow zaps them clean and also puts them away. Why the throwing? Why the zapping? Why the pink rock? Makes no sense whatsoever. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and we're fine without it. If you want the aesthetic, you can throw around some dishes near a Himalayan salt lamp.

    19. Four-Toed Feet

    A foot without a pinky toe
    Disney Channel

    Bet you didn't know that in the year 2080, humans would continue to the next level of evolution by losing their pinky toe. How does that help us? Unclear, but by Darwinian rules, it does. Phil must use a prosthetic toe, then, on a tomato-squashing field trip. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Not yet, unless you count your Uncle Lou who got his toe bitten off by a snapping turtle. 

    20. Thought-Activated Garden Hose

    Craig Anton holds a hose next to Ricky Ullman in their front yard
    Disney Channel

    Squeezing the nozzle of a garden hose is obviously one of the most strenuous activities you could put yourself through. It makes sense, therefore, that you'd switch over to thought-activated hoses that didn't involve squeezing a trigger. Mr. Diffy, therefore, is confused by the hose in 2004, which is hand operated. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and I can think of a few other products I'd like a thought-activated version of first. 

    21. Dog Translator

    A dog is growling at a dog translating device
    Disney Channel

    When Phil and Keely (played by Aly Michalka of the phenomenal Aly & AJ; perhaps you've heard their song "Symptom of Your Touch"?) start a business that involves scooping up dog poop, they run into a hostile dog. How to handle such an encounter? Whip out your dog translator so it can speak to you in human English. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, but there is a meow-translating app that my friend spent a whole vacation trying to use on our host's cat. 

    22. Instamorph Halloween Costumes

    A baby goes trick-or-treating
    Disney Channel

    Who needs to plan a Halloween costume when, in the future, you can just instamorph into anyone or anything? Is it cool? Yes. Does it take a lot of the joy out of Halloween? Of course. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Nope, although Heidi Klum is certainly trying her hardest

    23. Cyborgs

    A catalog of cyborgs, including the Sugar & Spice 800
    Disney Channel

    We learn in one episode that in the future, there are half-human, half-robot servants hell-bent on wreaking havoc in the universe. One even looks like Pim's friend Debbie (Kay Panabaker).

    Do we have it in 2021? If you count people with metal hips, I guess so, and we've got weird, sort-of-human robots like Jibo, but true cyborgs are still in the future. 

    24. New Ager

    Ricky Ullman and Aly Michalka grow a tree rapidly with the new ager
    Disney Channel

    This miraculous device can be used to change the age of a living thing. Ripen a fruit or grow a tree in no time by modifying the age. When Keely (Aly Michalka from Aly & AJ, the pair behind the hit bop "Like Whoa") decides to age herself up to seem more popular, however, Phil finds his best friend looking like a 40-year-old woman. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and I hope we never do. This is a TERRIFYING advance. All we've got are containers that keep berries from aging and Face Gym trying to keep you looking youthful. 

    25. Brain Exchange

    Ricky Ullman with the brain of a caveman on top of a cabinet
    Disney Channel

    When your in-home caveman starts to attack the mail carrier, I guess it might make a little bit of sense to send his brain into the body of your teenage son, and vice versa. Outside of that, this brain-swapping technology seems veeeeeeeeeery dicey. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Thankfully, no caveman body trading in the near future. 

    26. Invisispray

    Ricky Ullman becoming invisible in a bathroom stall
    Disney Channel

    Invisibility cloak who? I'll take the spray every day. Phil uses it at school to spy on Pim. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and I'm going to need some inventors to get on this because I love to eavesdrop, and this would be a real game changer on that front. 

    27. Video Holograph Chat

    Ricky Ullman's holograph face-talks to Amy Bruckner
    Disney Channel

    When Phil and Pim need to have a chat but aren't near each other, they pop out the ole video holograph call. Basically its FaceTime, only instead of a phone screen, you're looking at a projected hologram. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Well, we've got video calls and we've got holograms, so I'm sure if you're willing to be slightly inconvenienced, there is technology to do this. But also, why not just use FaceTime? 

    28. Cinespecs

    Amy Bruckner lounges on a hammock wearing her cinespecs
    Disney Channel

    I'll take a pair of these, please. Sunglasses that allow you to watch movies on the inside lens? Sounds like a good time to me, and I could pop them on when I'm stuck at an outdoor brunch with annoying friends. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Sure do. VR has been available for quite some time, and movies were one of the easiest things to transfer over to headsets. Also, if you're looking for just audio, no visual, there are these Bose sunglasses

    29. Lowfat Milk Fuel

    A hand pours milk into an engine
    Disney Channel

    Now, this is an interesting development. In the year 2075, the Earth is going to run out of oil and turn to low-fat milk as a new fuel source instead. It seems progressive until you realize it's all the cows that are wreaking havoc on the ozone, so perhaps we don't need engines running on their byproducts. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, we don't, and if I start seeing milk-based fuel on the market, I might take up picketing about the impending end of days. This might be a good use for Soylent, though. 

    30. Ingredient Detector

    An ingredient detector listing out the ingredients in a scone
    Disney Channel

    Another one of 2121's bizarre devices. This one allows you to point a remote control device at a food item and see the ingredients. Obviously, it must be somewhat faulty, though, because this scone only has raisins, eggs, flour, and milk. I did some research, and most raisin scone recipes call for a lot more than that. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, but with QR codes and calorie labels, we've got to be close, at least for packaged foods. This could be really nice for people with allergies or dietary restrictions, though. Perhaps the Biden team could get cracking on this technology? 

    31. Statuifier

    Craig Anton stands next to a statue version of Ricky Ullman
    Disney Channel

    Just as with Han Solo in the carbonite, this gadget lets you turn someone into a marble statue. When would you actually use this, though? Someone name a time. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Technically, no, but you can always just cover someone in cement. And then there are also the people who stand in Times Square pretending to be statues

    32. Electronic Painter

    Ricky Ullman and Aly Michalka change the color of a garage door from purple to green
    Disney Channel

    When Phil and Keely (Aly Michalka of Aly & AJ, who sing "Star Maps," which would be a great lip sync battle song, FYI) are tasked with painting a garage door, we learn, first, that you can paint instantly with a remote control; and second, that CHORES WERE ABOLISHED IN 2016. I must have missed the memo. I want to skip out on some chores. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, we've got rollers and brushes and this hose spraying thing, but that's about it. 

    33. Remote Comet Racing

    Ricky Ullman holds a remote control
    Disney Channel

    It's basically like remote control car racing, but you are controlling a giant hunk of rock spinning through space rather than a miniature automobile. 

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and I don't think we're close. 

    34. Hologram Mall Shopping

    Aly Michalka and Ricky Ullman look at a hologram dress
    Disney Channel

    Keely (have I mentioned she's played by Aly Michalka of Aly & AJ, who did an incredible cover of Kacey Musgrave's "Slow Burn"?) wants to go shopping, so Phil shows her what a mall in the future will look like. Part of that is standing by a kiosk looking at holographic versions of clothing that then magically appear on your body. 

    Do we have it in 2021? It's sort of a weird cross between going to the mall and online shopping. Looks like the worst of both worlds, if you ask me. 

    35. Robot Waiters

    Aly Michalka shares a drink with a robot waiter
    Disney Channel

    Keely (she's in Aly & AJ; listen to their music — you get the picture) also falls for a robot waiter in the futuristic mall. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Yes, but they're definitely not this hot. 

    36. Laser Hedge Trimmer

    A laser trimming the hedges
    Disney Channel

    Cut your hedges with a laser beam! But somehow, the laser doesn't work on the wood fence behind it? Strange.

    Do we have it in 2021? No, and I'd be VERY nervous if people were just running around with laser beams that could cut through whatever they aim it at. 

    37. Giggle

    Ricky and Ullman and Aly Michalka put their heads together to share a helmet projector screen
    Disney Channel

    It's basically Google, only instead of looking something up on your phone, you have to watch the answers on a projector that unrolls in front of your face. I like the germ of the idea, but the execution is ROUGH. 

    Do we have it in 2021? I mean, we have Google, we have helmets, we have projectors. You could easily make this, but also, you'd look real stupid wearing it. 

    38. Cheese Soda

    A woman holds a can of cheese soda in front of some cows
    Disney Channel

    In the future, they drink pop that is flavored like cheese. Disgusting. 

    Do we have it in 2021? Apparently so. It's blue cheese flavored, and I want to hurl. 

    Watch every episode of Phil of the Future with a Disney+ subscription now for $6.99 a month or $79.99 a year. If you’re not ready to commit yet, you can test it out for seven days for free!

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