Marty McFly and Doc Brown hop in the flying DeLorean time machine and transport from 1985 to October 21, 2015 in the iconic 1989 film Back to the Future II. Though 2015 seemed like the far, far off future at the time of the movie’s release, and the height of the Back to the Future trilogy seems like just yesterday, it has indeed been 30 years since the debut film in the series. Back to the Future II made a lot of bold predictions about life in 2015: virtual reality headsets, self-tying shoes, and of course…hoverboards. Let’s explore what technology we actually have in the present, and what inventions our mad scientists fell short of devising in their garage labs.
The Tech: Hoverboards
Marty trades in his trademark skateboard for a flying hoverboard that can float over land and water.
The Reality: Almost!
Just a year or two ago, the idea of a functional hoverboard still seemed like a distant thought. Now, innovative start-up tech companies like California’s Arx Pax are bringing the technology to life. The Hendo Hoverboard includes disc-shaped engines that induce an opposing magnetic field in a metallic surface below. The opposing force creates a lift that levitates the board off the ground. It can’t hover and move over multiple surfaces, but we’re getting there.
The Tech: Flying Cars
Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine didn’t just travel through space and time, it was also capable of flight.
The Reality: Not Quite
Companies like Terrafugia are working on auto/plane hybrids, including a model nearing production that has collapsible wings so the vehicle can fit in a garage. The days of commuting in your aircar are nowhere close, however.
The Tech: Garbage Fusion
Doc Brown is able to power his DeLorean by converting household garbage into energy.
The Reality: Nope
We have a thriving biofuel industry that converts organic materials such as plant and animal waste into fuel, but it hasn’t been used to power a time machine. At least not yet.
The Tech: Self-Tying Shoes
Marty McFly tries on a pair of high-top Nike that are capable of tying themselves.
The Reality: Stay Tuned
Nike filed a patent for Power Laces in 2014, and has hinted that a product release is on the horizon. We’ll believe it when we see it.
The Tech: Litter Bugs
These high-tech robotic garbage cans travel the streets of the city in Back to the Future II, picking up trash as it falls.
The Reality: Far Off
Smart waste solution companies like Bigbelly have developed waste stations that have solar-powered compactors, but a wandering robotic hoard of litter bugs is not in the works.
Read more about Back to the Future II’s technology and where we stand today in Glenn McDonald’s Yahoo! article The Technology of ‘Back to the Future’ is Here-ish!