How Back To The Future II predicted 2015: Did it get anything right?
"Roads, where we're going we don't need roads." It might have been one of the opening quotes of Back to the Future Part II, leading into one of the best films of the 80s and a great, escapist slice of science fiction, but it was also a glimpse into what our future might be like.
However, the movie set its bar low in that it only looked forward to 2015, which might have seemed a very long way away in 1989 but is now, in reality, here.
Much of the appeal of the second in the BTTF trilogy is in its, what seemed outlandish at the time, technology and gadgets. Throughout there are gizmos and innovations that we could only dream of, yet many have since become available.
Flying cars aside, much of Robert Zemeckis' film seems to have been on the money in what 2015 might be like, so we've looked at each of the major tech advances shown to find a real world equivalent.
What they go right so far
There are plenty of things in the film that the scriptwriter, Bob Gale, and production team got right. The fashions themselves might not have translated so much (who'd have thought that leading into 2015 we seem to be so heavily and ironically inspired by the 80s?), but some of the tech predictions are quite simply astonishingly accurate.
In the film, Doc Brown uses a device that basically overlays information about people as they walk along, a cross between a digital binocular and a mobile phone. The interesting thing is that it is not half as advanced as some of the stuff we've already seen on our smartphones. And then there is Google Glass of course, which is designed to do a very similar job.
Remarkably, even though hoverboards were still a flight of fancy the first time we revisited the film and its technology 10 years ago there have been significant breakthroughs of late. The Hendo Hoverboard for one is a genuine floating board that you can order for $10,000. Admittedly, as it uses magnetic technology you will need a metal ramp, rather than be able to use it on the street, but it does indeed hover.
You're either a Coke person or a Pepsi person, but the idea of drink appearing out of the bar without anyone doing anything is already possible. The real device came not from Pepsi but Coca Cola however. In 2009, it created a drinks machine that could deliver you over 100 different drinks at the press of a button. Perfect.
Games where you are the controller
"You mean you have to use your hands? That's like a baby's toy," says a young Elijah Wood to his mate after Marty McFly shows them how to use an arcade machine in Café 80s. While we don't see the toy they are talking about, Microsoft's Kinect has proven to do just that, especially in its Xbox One iteration. Motion games might not be as popular today as they were when the first Kinect came out, but there's no doubt that the tech is available.
"Save the clock tower," says a dude trying to raise money in Hill Valley town square. He then pulls out a mobile device that only requires a fingerprint to process the payment. There are plenty of smartphones with fingerprint sensors today, including the iPhone 6. And Apple Pay uses TouchID as part of its security system.
Jennifer is taken home to Hilldale by the police to her future home. On walking through the front door, the home welcomes her and turns on the lights by voice command. There are now plenty of utilities and systems that enable just that. For example, Xbox One can control your TV viewing by voice very well and Honeywell is implementing voice control to its heating systems.
Marty McFly Junior (Marty's son, played by Michael J Fox) comes home and turns on the TV. Rather than just watch the one channel, the TV in question can manage six channels at once. Modern Smart TVs have plenty of processing power to do the same, with multiple picture in picture displays. The Xbox One also has Snap functionality to have different information displayed in a side-bar to the main screen.
Forgetting that random tree-like fruit bowl that appears from the ceiling in the kitchen of the McFly homestead, in the background you can see a cooking gadget called the Master Cook. It is presumably a smart cooker that works for you, and you can already get a number of microwaves that know how to cook food and adjust temperatures accordingly.
Videocalling on your TV
Skype is now readily available on TVs and set-top-boxes connected to flatscreens. And many of the manufacturers now include the camera as standard, set somewhere in the bezel of the screen.
Home payments via credit card
Marty needs to pay Needles, but he is at home. No problem - he gets out his brief case and makes a transfer via his credit card. If anything, having to use the card itself is slightly archaic considering that there are many digital wallet services around, such as PayPal, where you can instantly transfer money between users.
Marty McFly might be getting fired, but that doesn't stop the video screen telling him what his boss likes, dislikes, where he went to college and other gems of information. LinkedIn anyone?
Rubbish as fuel
Doc Brown turns up in 1986 and starts stuffing rubbish into Mr Fusion. A can of beer and a banana skin are all that is needed to get the DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour. People have been using waste cooking oil as bio-diesel and companies might be experimenting with bio-fuels at the moment, we are a long way off neat rubbish at the moment.
Crackpot inventors already have them, but the flying car isn't anywhere near becoming mainstream just yet.
With floating cars, comes the need for floating signs. Something tells us we'll be waiting a fair bit longer for these.
Auto fitting clothes
Those famous Nike boots that auto-fit Marty, or the jacket that dries itself are still flights of fancy, but technology in clothes is getting more advanced. The latest trend is clothing that contains wearable technologies and can monitor your well-being.
Robotic petrol stations
In New Jersey it's the law that an attendant has to serve you in a petrol station, unfortunately none of them are robotic (they just act like that sometimes). In 2015, according to Back To The Future II, Texaco will be serving you as long as you are prepared to "Trust your car to the system with the star". There are robotic parking lots around, including in Tokyo, but no gas stations we've heard of.
Cinemas still seem to think 3D is a groovy invention, let alone Jaws 19 in holographic glory. And while there have been some major advancements in holographic technology in recent times, especially for advertising hoardings like the outside of the cinema in this secen, they are not designed for full entertainment content.
You look at the Pizza Hut pizza Marty's parents bring around for dinner and you think to yourself that's not going to cut it, then she puts it in the Black & Decker Hydrator and a massive pizza appears seconds later. It's a lovely idea, but the closest we've got as yet is the ability to 3D print food from scratch. Even that's a long way off being a consumer product though.
Theatrically released in 1989, Back to the Future Part II amazingly predicted a lot of stuff that is now readily available, even taken for granted today. And we even have several months before the 21 October date mentioned in the film. Maybe even the last few will have more substance by then.