The Secret Genius of Modern Life

The Secret Genius of Modern Life

Some of the most familiar, useful technology that has transformed modern life has a fascinating, baffling backstory. In this jaw-dropping documentary, mathematician Hannah Fry reveals the miraculous components that create current tech. Bank cards have a sinister origin, a Hollywood star was involved in future virtual assistant development and waffles helped to improve the soles of your sneakers!

Watch The Secret Genius of Modern Life and more acclaimed documentaries on BBC Select today. Restrictions apply*.

The Secret Genius of Modern Life on BBC Select

Episode 1: The Bank Card
Hannah Fry examines the bank card, including a surprising, sinister backstory.

The humble bank card is often taken for granted. But it’s the digital key to accessing cash and is packed full of extraordinary innovations, including some with sinister origins. In this extraordinary technology documentary, mathematician Hannah Fry discovers why we have Russian spies to thank for contactless payments and finds out how the CIA helped kick-start the bank card revolution.

Episode 2: The Food Delivery App
Hannah Fry tucks into the staggering technology behind the latest food delivery apps.

Food delivery apps like Deliveroo and Just Eat are now used by billions around the world and their technology has changed the way we all eat. Mathematician Hannah Fry meets the R&D team behind food delivery titan Deliveroo, finds out how pensioners ordering baked goods revolutionized the future of the industry, and discovers how pizza made us fall in love with the internet during the 1990s.

Episode 3: Virtual Assistants
Hannah Fry delves into the inner workings of virtual assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa.

Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, are now found in millions of homes. In this jaw-dropping science documentary, mathematician Hannah Fry goes behind the scenes with Alexa’s chief scientist, reveals how secret technology designed to hunt German U-boats led to their targeted hearing and discovers modern wireless networks’ debt to a 1940s Hollywood star.

Episode 4: The Electric Car
Hannah Fry discovers how a breakthrough in camcorder batteries led to an electric empire.

Electric cars could change the way we all drive while also helping to save the planet. In this intriguing technology documentary, Hannah Fry discovers why innovations in meat packing almost derailed the electric car revolution and how a breakthrough in camcorder batteries led to Elon Musk’s electric empire. She also demonstrates how not to drive a multimillion-dollar prototype car of the future.

Episode 5: Fitness Tracker
Hannah finds out how 1970s car crashes helped us to count our steps and improve fitness.

With around a third of the population now owning fitness trackers, many have become obsessed with tracking every move in the name of their future well-being. In this compelling science documentary, Hannah Fry finds out how 1970s car crashes helped us to count our steps, why high-altitude WWII dogfights led to crucial health technology and how fitness trackers are even being used to catch killers.

Episode 6: Trainer
Hannah discovers how delicious breakfast waffles helped to transform our sneaker soles.

Trainers, or sneakers, are a multi-billion-dollar business with a devoted, obsessive following. In this technology documentary, Hannah Fry visits eBay’s authentication center, where they are waging war against fake high- value tennis shoes. She discovers how American breakfast waffles transformed our sneaker soles and how an 18th-century tea set led to the use of the celebrity endorsement.

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