‘Back to the Future’: The future is almost here

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Marty McFly: “Uh, Jennifer, um, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I … you’re in a time machine.”
Jennifer: “And this is the year 2015?”
Doc: “October 21, 2015.”

We’ve almost caught up to Marty McFly, but has he caught up to us?

The “Back to the Future” trilogy was a hit in the ’80s and ’90s. The movies were suitable for all ages, so the trilogy became popular among many movie watchers.

“I remember loving those movies, especially the one where they went to the future. It was cool to watch that movie and imagine a future with all of that stuff,” said BYU alumnus Sean Sibbett.

In “Back to the Future: Part II,” Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown visit the year 2015. They witness many futuristic technologies in 2015 that were unfathomable at the time.

The movie’s version of 2015 is still a little far fetched in some technological areas, though technology has made great advances since the ’80s.

Hoverboards

A comparison between Back to the Future hoverboards and the modern-day version

Hovercraft technology isn’t even close to the effectiveness of the hoverboard McFly rode, but inventors continue to press forward. A company named HUVr released a video in March 2014 featuring Moby, Christopher Lloyd, Tony Hawk and Terell Owens riding HUVr’s hoverboard.

The video shows a board with the same functionality as a “Back to the Future” board, making excited fans think the hoverboard time had come. Fans were disappointed to find out the video was a hoax.

Sibbett said he is hopeful that sometime in the near future we’ll have similar technology. “I’m disappointed that nobody has invented the hoverboard yet, because that would be sweet to have,” he said.

Automated gas stations

In McFly’s 2015, gas stations provided customers with full service, eliminating all work on the customer’s part. The gas stations had a computerized attendant checking all items that personal attendants used to do in 1955.

Customers today still have to manually fill up their own tanks, but now they have the option to pay at the kiosk or inside the gas station. In Oregon and New Jersey, gas attendants still are required to provide full service to cars; it’s the law.

Holographic films and billboards

Three-dimensional movies are similar to the holofilms in the movie. People can wear 3-D glasses and watch a movie that appears to jump out at them. Similar to holofilms, the movie also had holobillboards.

Holobillboards have yet to be invented, but digital billboards are becoming popular.

Thumb pads

Thumb pads frequently appeared in “Back to the Future: Part II.” With these pads people use their thumb prints to gain access to a home, and thumb pads replaced currency. Thumb pads were on the market at the time the movie was released.

Products like the iPhone 5S and 6 have fingerprint-recognition software similar to the thumb pad concept.

Video telephones

Back to the Future videophones vs. Facetime

Like the video telephone in “Back to the Future: Part II,” telephones in the 21st century offer video call functions such as FaceTime and Skype. Video phone calls allow people who live countries apart to communicate almost face to face.

In the movie, McFly’s children are wearing video glasses. They could watch TV without a large screen or talk on the phone through a video call. Inventions like Google Glass provide users with functions similar to a hands-free smartphone.

Skyway

McFly witnessed cars flying in the ‘skyway.’ Prototypes like the Moller Skycar exist, but commercial flying cars have yet to be invented. Controlled airspace for aircraft is the closest thing that exists to a ‘skyway.’

Flying cars may not be around, but airplane technology continues to improve.

Auto-adjusting and auto-drying jackets

McFly had a jacket that was set to automatically adjust to his size at the touch of a button and would automatically dry when wet.

An auto-adjusting and auto-drying jacket has not been invented yet, but clothing materials have advanced. Now some clothing designs adjust to the wearer based on the outside temperature.

New technology

The real 2015 does not have the same things Marty McFly saw, but there are things it does have that weren’t predicted.

Electric cars have been developed instead of flying cars. “Back to the Future” showed a device that converted trash to gas, but having an electric car may be just as good.

Electric car drivers no longer have to worry about gas costs. Instead they have to worry about where to find the nearest outlet and, consequently, the price of fossil fuels.

Smart watches are also prominent in today’s world. Samsung, Sony and Apple all released watches in 2014 that function similarly to smartphones, but are worn the same as any other watch.

Instead of chunky computers, people now have dozens of portable device options like tablets, phablets, Kindles, iPads and other screens that function on Wi-Fi.

“Back to the Future: Part II” gave viewers ideas for the future of technology, and 2015 will bring even more technologies that once seemed impossible.

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