Back to the Future II Predictions that Got Scarily Close to Our Reality

Today, October 21, 2015, will perhaps forever be known as Back to the Future Day. We can’t know for sure that the title will hold up forever, but the movies’ popularity seems to have some staying power. If you’re not sure why today has this distinction, let’s take a little trip back to 1989, when Back to the Future Part II was released. Remember the date Marty and Doc visited in the future? It’s all coming back, isn’t it?

For the first half of the movie, Marty wandered around in awe of the incredible technology of 2015. In 1989, we were certain none of those crazy things could ever possibly come to pass. Hoverboards? Self-tying shoes? Well, okay, those haven’t yet—at least not for worldwide public consumption. Some of the other crazy—at the time—technology, however, is here to stay now.

Hands-Free Video Games

It seems like a throwaway line, when Marty shows two kids how to play the “old school” arcade game in the 80s diner. “You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy.”

Hahaha, we all laughed. Of course you have to use your hands to play video games. Unless you’re really in 2015, with Xbox Kinect. Yes, today wireless and even hands-less video games are pretty much mainstream.

Tablet Computers

Everyone wanted to save the damn clock tower, didn’t they? In 1985, activists collected change in a can. In 2015, however, the activists wandered around with a strange computer device that was flat and needed no wires or cords. Like that could possibly happen, right?

Well, it did. In fact, tablets are quickly taking over the computer industry, with many manufacturers now creating hybrid laptop/tablet devices for ultimate functionality and convenience. Score another for Zemeckis.

Wearable Technology

Future Marty and his family weren’t living in the hottest of neighborhoods in the movie’s version of 2015. In fact, even the cops were afraid to go into their “rough” neighborhood. Still, lack of money didn’t stop the whole family from obtaining and wearing their computer/television/telephone glasses at the table. Wearable technology was so mainstream for them that even the middle and lower class could afford it.

Maybe Google Glass didn’t hang around long enough to become that mainstream, but we are looking at the possibility of Microsoft’s Hololens becoming the next big thing. And as far as wearable technology goes, nothing’s more mainstream than the Apple Watch.

Immediate Weather Updates

Because we still can’t predict with 100% accuracy what the weather will do in the coming days, our on-demand weather apps just don’t seem so amazing to us. If you remember the sheer uncertainty thirty years ago, you’d be thrilled with the steps we’ve taken. Radar and other weather technologies do make it possible to know what will happen in the coming minutes, even if we can’t yet get a bead on what’s to come next week.

If you remember Doc timing the last of the rain down to the second in the movie, then you may remember that sense of wonder that anyone could possibly know what the weather is about to do. Now we can know. We just forgot to feel that sense of wonder.

Voice Activated Technology

We could talk about how Marty Jr. was able to watch several different channels at once, but that’s not the real “wow” moment. I mean, we’ve had that ability since not long after the movie came out. Instead, let’s talk about Siri. Siri wasn’t the first voice-activated technology out there, but she was the first to be so widely used. Sure, she has a hard time understanding accents on occasion, but she’s pretty amazing all the same.

Now, Google uses it, Amazon’s Echo, Ford SYNC… It’s everywhere. The latest Roku also lets you use the voice-activated technology to search TV shows and movies. That’s something Marty Jr. would definitely get behind.


Remember in the movie when the cops drop Jennifer off at her future home and use her fingerprint to get the door open? What a cool feature that turned out to be, especially since 1985 Jennifer wouldn’t have had a key to her 2015 house. But Jennifer from any time could get into the house with her thumbprint!

Maybe including fingerprint scanners in this list is a little bold, since the technology wasn’t even new at the time the movie was made. Still, it was exotic enough that the idea of having fingerprint scanners in every home was laughable. Fast-forward to today, when we can even use biometrics to unlock our phones.

Video Chat

Old Needles managed to trick 2015 Marty into messing up big time at work over a video call, and then moments later, his boss came on the line to fire him. We got to see the slimy guy weasel his way into Marty’s trust and the anger of the boss as he severed the ties. And, at the time, we were amazed at the ability to do so.

Again, video conferences weren’t exactly new technology at the time, but the systems were so expensive that only the wealthiest of corporations could afford it. Now, however, it’s in every home and in several different formats—Google Chat, iChat, Skype—and it’s free.

So, maybe the movie missed a few big technologies that eventually came to pass, like 3D printers, social networks, and streaming capabilities. Maybe they believed a little too wholeheartedly in some of the technology that didn’t last, like the food rehydrator and the fax machine. And maybe a few of the super-out-there ideas are still in the works, like hoverboards, self-lacing shoes, and even flying cars. Still, the amount of “predicted” technologies that became daily staples is staggering. And maybe the Cubs even have a real chance at winning the World Series.

Fan of the movie? Celebrating Back to the Future Day with us? If we missed something, let us know.

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