Year Invented: 2014
Status: Basically a prototype. Sort of like the movie, but not really. They only work on metallic surfaces, so sidewalk surfing is out of the question.
Smartwatch With Precise Weather Forecasting
Apple Watch running 'Dark Sky' app
Company: Apple & The Dark Sky Company
Year Invented: 2015 & 2012
Price: $350+ & $3.99
After Doc Brown lands the DeLorean in the future, he asks Marty to get out of the car. When Marty points out that it's pouring down rain, Doc looks at his watch and says "wait five more seconds." Right on cue, the rain stops and Doc marvels at 2015's ability to predict weather "down to the tick."
Status: Available to purchase. Almost exactly like the movie, except it is only accurate to the minute, not the second.
Nike Air MAG sneakers
Year Invented: 2015?
Status: Air MAG sneakers already exist, but they don't tie themselves. The self-tying version is in the works. Nike claims they will be available by the end of the year, but we've been waiting for nearly 30 years, so you probably shouldn't hold your breath.
Update: On Back to the Future day, October 21, 2015, The Michael J. Fox Foundation tweeted the following image of Michael trying out the first pair of Air Mags:
As well as this video:
Nike will auction off more self-lacing Air Mags in 2016, with proceeds going to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is devoted to funding research into Parkinson's disease. A similar fundraiser was held in 2011, although in that case, the Air Mags didn't lace themselves.
Robotic Gas Pumps
Year Invented: 2013
Status: Prototype. Husky is considering installing them soon; the cost - $50,000 each - may be a problem if the company wants to sell a large number of them. They seem to suggest that gas bought from one of their pumps will be more expensive than gas from normal pumps, which is also a problem.
Robot Restaurant Waiters
Year Invented: 2012
Status: In use in China.
Similar to Way better than the movie, but they don't imitate celebrities.
The entire sequence when Jennifer wakes up in her future home and we meet old Marty, old Jennifer and their children is set in a remarkably accurate blueprint of what today's smart home can do. Numerous home technologies (most of which are covered below) interact with each other, such as the flatscreen TV that also takes video phone calls, or the goggles that Marty's kids use for various purposes.
All of these devices talk to each other and work together in the movie, which is all the more impressive when you consider that [the average person had] no concept of an Internet at the time. Today, the Internet is the foundation used to network these devices together.
The smart home devices used in Back to the Future, Part II available today include:
Fingerprint Door Locks: Multiple companies today offer door locks you can install that unlock doors not with a key but a fingerprint sensor.
Virtual Windows: The McFly home had a big digital screen on the wall that could display various outdoor scenes. These are available now.
Hanging Indoor Gardens: These come in a wide variety of form factors, though there are not yet any that can descend and retract from the ceiling on command.
Giant Flatscreen TVs: In the McFly home, Marty Jr. turns on a gigantic, wide, flatscreen TV. It's easy to watch this scene today and not see anything particularly futuristic, because we have huge flatscreens in abundance.
And the split-screen thing is available too
- Video Phone Calls On TV: Old Marty receives a phone call at home from his "friend" Needles, which he takes on the big screen TV in the living room. Today, Skype works on some smart TVs, as well as through Microsoft's Xbox. Sony is reportedly working on something similar for PlayStation.
Personal Credit Card Reader: Old Marty authorizes a credit card transaction as part of an illegal scheme concocted by Needles. To take part in the plan, Marty whips out his credit card and zips it through a nearby card reader. Smartphone owners can do this today with a credit card reader dongle, such as those made by Square, PayPal and Intuit.
Smartglasses: Doc Brown's chrome visor and the goggles worn at home by the McFly kids fit the definition of smartglasses. The kids watch TV and answer the phone with their goggles, while Doc has a rear-view camera display in his while driving the DeLorean. It's likely both devices have additional uses. Google Glass (postponed) and Microsoft's Hololens (not yet available) are the closest approximations we have today, but the technology arguably exists to do the kinds of things depicted in the movie.
- Voice-activation: Young Jennifer turns on the interior lights (by accident) with a voice command. Marty Jr. calls for fruit from the hanging garden. Plenty of products offer voice activation in the here and now.
Fingerprint Payment System
Company: Discover Financial Services; Citibank; Others
Year Invented: Past few years
Status: Available in select locations.
Year Invented: Mid-20th century
Status: The version we see in BttF II is cool and seems very practical; the real thing... let's just say it leaves much to be desired. They amount to either a regular car with wings bolted on, or a plane with four wheels that can, with a considerable amount of effort, be turned into something resembling a car. I'm going to call this one "not quite a real thing yet".
Things The Movie Got Wrong
Real, glasses-free 3D/free-floating holographic movies; also, we are still 15 sequels short of Jaws 19
Note: It has been suggested that this is actually an accurate prediction, because sequels and 3D movies are both popular. The problem with this suggestion is that neither of these things are really predictions: Back to the Future II is itself a sequel, and sequels were popular long before it was made; the joke here is a reference to the fact that, when BttF II was made, there were already 3 Jaws movies; the third Jaws movie was itself a 3D movie, and the original title was Jaws 3D; and finally, 3D movies were already very popular in the 1950's, as evidenced by the fact that, in the first BttF movie, when Marty is in the year 1955, one of the guys in Biff's gang (played by Casey Siemaszko) is wearing 3D glasses:
It should go without saying that you can't predict something that has already happened. The only actual predictions here are incorrect: The last Jaws movie was Jaws 4, not Jaws 19, and although 3D technology has advanced, you still need to wear glasses to see a 3D movie.
Floating Inversion Boards
- The Cubs being good (they're actually terrible)1
- World Series extended to best of 9 (it's actually still the best of 7 games)
- Princess Diana being alive and becoming Queen of England (she's actually not, and she actually didn't)
- Queen Elizabeth being dead (she's actually an immortal cyborg)
- The President being a woman (he's actually a man - but at least he's black); people still reading newspapers (they actually don't).
Also, if the claim "3 Billion Readers Every Day" is meant to suggest that the population of the U.S. is now 3 billion people, it is off by about 2.7 billion people (it's actually 300 million).
[Thanks to Random832 for pointing out the Queen Diana thing, which brought the paper itself to my attention]
Dog Walking Drones
Yes, you probably could tie your dog to a drone and remotely "walk" it around the block. However, there is a small but significant chance that you'll end up with a dead dog and an arrest for animal cruelty. People tend to frown upon strangling dogs to death with remote control helicopters.
Year Invented: 2015
Price: About $20 from the Pepsi website; $400 or more from eBay and similar sources.
This doesn't really count, because Pepsi is only doing it to cash in on the Back to the Future II anniversary. Still, they have made a reasonable facsimile of the bottle seen in the movie, so here it is:
In case you were wondering, the stuff inside the bottle is just Pepsi made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. You can buy a regular bottle of the same stuff for about $1.50.
Note: The World Series playoffs have begun, and the Cubs are still in the running. They will play the Mets for the National League pennant, and if they win, they will go on to compete in the World Series. If they win, it will not only be a confirmation of the predictions made by Back to the Future II - it will also be their first World Series title in over a century. The screenwriter of BTTF II has just gone on record regarding this incredible sequence of events.
The Mets just knocked the Cubs out of the running. The Cubs won't even be playing in the World Series in 2015, let alone winning it. They tried their best, and they almost made it, but the wheels fell off during the playoffs.
Update: In 2016, the Cubs finally won the series. BTTF II was a year off.