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This year is not only the 30th anniversary of the Back to the Future  franchise as a whole, but is also the year in which Back to the Future II  is set.

Which technologies that exist in 2015 (at least as prototypes) were correctly predicted by Back to the Future II ?

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To clarify, I am looking only for technologies that were not in existence at the time that Back to the Future II was made. (All technologies that appear in Back to the Future II are relevant, regardless of whether they also appear in other works.)

239

Hoverboards

Company: Hendo
Year Invented: 2014
Price: $10,000

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.

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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.

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Power-Lacing Sneakers

Nike Air MAG sneakers

Company: Nike
Year Invented: 2015?
Price: TBD

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.

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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:

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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

Company: Husky
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.

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Robot Restaurant Waiters

Company: Various
Year Invented: 2012

Status: In use in China. Similar to Way better than the movie, but they don't imitate celebrities.

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Smart Homes

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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

Source for all quotes above: Tech Times article by Robin Parrish


Fingerprint Payment System

Company: Discover Financial Services; Citibank; Others
Year Invented: Past few years

Status: Available in select locations.

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Flying Cars

Company: Various
Year Invented: Mid-20th century
Price: Various

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".

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Things The Movie Got Wrong

Real, glasses-free 3D/free-floating holographic movies; also, we are still 15 sequels short of Jaws 19

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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:

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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

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Mr. Fusion

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The Newspaper

  • 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]

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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.
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Honorable Mention:

Pepsi Perfect

Company: Pepsi
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:

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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.


1 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.

  • 10
    Awesome post, but I think hoverboards are a massive stretch. The way in which hoverboards are currently implemented will never allow them to mimic those in BFII. We would need an entirely different technology, so I would say that the technology has certainly not been invented. I realize that you allude to this yourself. – Ed S. Oct 17 '15 at 19:28
  • Another article about the BTTF II World Series predictions: newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/… – Wad Cheber Oct 19 '15 at 3:24
  • Update: The Mets have won two games against the Cubs in the NL pennant. The pennant is best of seven games, so it is looking less likely that the Cubs will make it into the World Series. If the Mets win two more games, they go to the series. The Cubs have to win four games to make it. Not impossible, but difficult. – Wad Cheber Oct 20 '15 at 2:47
  • 1
    Final score in the fourth and last playoff game: 8-3 Mets. Sorry, Chicago. – Wad Cheber Oct 22 '15 at 3:47
  • 4
    It seems the Cubs actually won, so put that in there – RudolfJelin Dec 3 '16 at 21:28
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Here's a list:

  • Drones with cameras

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  • Flat screen televisions

  • Video calling

    Video calling

  • Biometrics (remember the police scene)

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  • Holographs which we have prototypes of currently

  • Answering calls via glasses (We've got Google Glass)

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  • Flying cars

  • Self-lacing shoes - a Canadian kickstarter called Powerlace has developed shoes that tighten for an athlete

  • The ability to watch more than one television channel

Hot off the Press!

Highly accurate weather predictions

This new app claims that it has the ability to provide very accurate weather reports. This hasn't yet been released, but probably will be soon, so you too can tell Marty to

Wait five more seconds

  • 3
    Good list, but 3D films aren't exactly a prediction since they already existed at the time, as did holograms (though no hologram now or then can be projected freely in air as opposed to appearing to pop out of a background surface like a piece of glass), as did prototype flying cars (which are still as far from widespread adoption today as they were then), as did magnetic card strips that could be swiped. – Hypnosifl Jul 20 '15 at 4:15
  • 1
    Actually, "holograms...projected freely in air" are available now (although in very limited applications, due to the cost and danger). – TML Jul 20 '15 at 4:57
  • 1
    That pictured flying car is still a vision: "TF-X™ is Terrafugia's vision for the future of personal transportation.". (They do make real ones, though) – Bergi Jul 20 '15 at 19:05
  • 1
    Further progress on projecting images freely into the air, this time without burning your skin if you try to touch them: spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/audiovideo/… – Hypnosifl Nov 5 '15 at 1:55
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    Some of your images were dead so I cut them out. See here – Gallifreyan Mar 11 '17 at 16:57
21

I would like to add one more, that I'm surprised I didn't see in any answers so far:
Video games that don't require you to use your hands.

Kinect Sensor

  • 4
    Actually kinect and its rivals require using your hand, only they don't require to hold a controller/joystick/gun. Now in the movie they don't show what they have meant by "using your hand" but I always assumed some sort of a neural connnection. – mg30rg Jul 20 '15 at 14:42
  • 3
    We're almost all the way to that point, too.. but I found myself recently musing about this exact point when I realized I could walk into the room, speak a few words, make a few gestures, play a dance game, make a few more gestures/incantations to shut the system down, all without touching a damn thing. – Josh Jul 20 '15 at 16:44
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    In addition to kinect, there are a bunch of supposedly mind controllers that have been floating around for several years. For example Emotiv. I think they've backed off the idea that they'd be good enough for playing games however. – Matt Burland Jul 20 '15 at 17:17
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    This scene also correctly predicts what Elijah Wood would look like in 2015. – Mark Peters Jul 20 '15 at 17:51
  • 2
    I had a Power Pad for my NES in 1986 or so. You used your feet instead of your hands. I also had the Power Glove, which used your hand in a different way. – Wad Cheber Jul 21 '15 at 1:27
5

Many great answers have been given on this page. Here is my contribution at two days from October 2015. The pyrolysis that the Mr. Fusion seems to do is demonstrated in this video.

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The demise of Laserdiscs:

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Drones could, technically, walk your dog:

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  • Good spotting of the laserdiscs. – Underverse Dec 27 '18 at 7:19

protected by user1027 Jul 20 '15 at 15:12

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