October 21, 2015: Back to the Future day is finally upon us. While many of the crazy gadgets from Back to the Future Part II (BTTF Part II) have failed to be realised, there are a few tech inventions featured in the film that we either already enjoy today, or can expect to enjoy in the near future.
For those of us who grew up in awe of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s vision of 2015 we thought we’d take a look at some of the gizmos featured in BTTF Part II that have came to fruition. While we may not yet have flying cars, holographic billboards, self-drying jackets, and dog walking drones, we’ve identified 6 tech inventions from BTTF Part II that are now – or are set to become – real world products.
1. Widescreen TV
When BTTF Part II was first released in 1989, we were all still glued to our precious cathode ray tube (CTR) televisions…remember those gargantuan, heavy, box shaped monstrosities that could only display video in 4:3? But by the mid-2000’s we had finally started to see things in 16:9, just as Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale BTTF predicted.
While they aren’t available for purchase just yet, Japanese car manufacturer Lexus recently unveiled a prototype for its very own magnetic levitation hoverboard. While back here in Australia, marketing expert and innovator – and good friend of Kwasi Studios – Dan Petrovic is also trying to bring the hoverboard to life. While this is far from certain, I reckon we could see some version of a commercially available hoverboard by the end of the decade.
3. Video Calling
In the late 1980s video calling seemed like nothing more than a fantastic fantasy, but with FaceTime and Skype now ubiquitous across all desktops and smart phones, video calling has become an essential part of our everyday lives.
4. Tablet Computers
At certain points in BTTF Part II we see devices that look decidedly like Apple’s tablet computers. In the film these devices are used as portable thumb scanners. Throughout the film we see payments made using this technology, and while this type of payment method isn’t exactly widespread in real life today, things like Apple Pay are becoming increasingly popular.
5. Self-Tying Laces
One of the quirkier inventions featured in BTTF Part II, Nike fanatics have been calling for the realisation of the self-tying shoe ever since the movie premiered. And finally, it appears, the wait is soon to be over! Nike designer Tinker Hatfield has confirmed he and his team are working on a consumer version of the iconic self-tying shoe that’s tipped to be ready for widespread sale by the end of this year.
6. Microsoft Hololens
When I first saw BTTF Part II on VHS in 1995 the gizmo that i was personally most in awe of was the bizarre wearable headset seen below. In the film these devices are used to make calls and watch telly, but in 2015 wearable tech devices like these have grown to become big business. With the invention of Google Glass, Microsoft’s HoloLens, and Apple Watch, Zemeckis and Gale got this one spot on.
BTTF Part II was a box office smash in 1989, grossing more than $US322m worldwide; success which came largely on the back of Zemeckis and Gale’s fantastic vision of a 2015 riddled with tech gizmos and gadgets. And with 2015 not only marking the year of Back to the Future day, but also the 30th anniversary of the original’s release, cinemas across the country will be hosting retrospectives throughout October and November. So if you want the chance to relive the splendour of these wonderful films on the big screen now’s your chance.
Are you a BTTF Part II fan? Which of the weird and wonderful tech gadgets featured in the film would you most like to get your hands on?