October 21, 2015

17 Things Back to the Future II Got Right

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[caption id="attachment_17825" align="alignright" width="300"]Back to the Future Day This is heavy! (CREDIT: Universal Pictures)[/caption] In 1989, Back to the Future II gave audiences a view of a very specific date in the future: October 21, 2015. Now that the day is here, let's take a look at what the movie got right, and two things that exist only because they appeared in the film. (Great Scott! Talk about a paradox!)

14 Things Back to the Future Got Right

Robert Zemeckis has said he wasn't trying to predict the future when he made the movie, but nonetheless, he got a lot right about life in 2015. Sure, he got a lot wrong, but by my estimate, he got it right about two-thirds of the time. Here's my list of what Back to the Future predictions came to pass, in more or less the order that they appeared in the film.

1. Smart Clothes

As soon as Marty, Doc, and Jennifer arrive in 2015, Doc gives Marty new clothes to wear so he'll fit in—specifically, a hat, shoes, and a jacket. I'll come back to the hat and shoes later, but what about the jacket? No, we don't have self-sizing clothes with built-in dryers, but we do have connected, smart clothes. My favorite is this dress: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D40n_oZW5Ig[/embed]

2.  Holograms

One of the first things Marty sees after arriving is a holographic ad for Jaws 19, followed by a pop-up billboard hologram for Wilson Hover Conversions. While we're not to the point of using holograms in advertising yet, we have used them in concert performances. And while our billboards may not be projected in the air, video billboards are everywhere.

3. Cellular Phones

This one's kind of weird, and I have to give credit to Peter Oberth for his keen eye, because I certainly missed it. No one in the movie uses mobile phones (we'll talk about those glasses in a minute), but when Marty looks into the window of the antique store, there appears to be a Magnavox cell phone with a slide out keyboard on display. Check it out: [caption id="attachment_17833" align="aligncenter" width="500"]cell phone Is that really a cell phone? (CREDIT: Peter Oberth and Universal Pictures)[/caption]

4. Retro Cafes

Doc tells Marty to go to the 80s Cafe and take the place of Marty's son. Inside, he finds himself surrounded by familiar things from his time, mounted on the walls as decoration. He even finds a familiar video game in the back and schools two little kids on how to play it. While we may not have retro cafes, retro arcades are currently a hot trend. There's even a national chain of them called Barcade. And speaking of arcades ...

5. Hands-free Gaming

In the back of the 80s Cafe, Marty meets two boys who are trying to figure out a coin-operated video game. After Marty shows them how it's done, one of the boys says, "You have to use your hands? That's like a baby's game." Clearly, the kids are used to a controller-free video game system more like the Xbox Kinect.

6. Pedal Desks

You know what else the 80s Cafe had? Pedal desks. And yes, we've got them, too—along with standing desks, treadmill desks, and other desks designed to allow us to exercise while we work. [caption id="attachment_17830" align="aligncenter" width="560"]pedal desks Left: Pedal desks from Back to the Future II. Right: LifeSpan's pedal desk. (CREDIT: Universal Pictures, LifeSpan)[/caption]

7. Hoverboards

I'm tempted to chalk this up to things that exist because they were in Back to the Future, but I'll include it here because there are a couple of hoverboards now. One you can actually buy, but it isn't really a hoverboard. Then there's the Lexus hoverboard, which definitely won't see the market anytime soon (if ever). Finally, the latest entry is the Hendo hoverboard, which may actually make it to market. Here's a video of Tony Hawk riding a working prototype (and no, it's not a hoax): [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSheVhmcYLA[/embed]

8. Camera Drones

After Marty causes Griff and his gang to get arrested, he sees a USA Today camera drone filming the event. Today, drone footage has nearly replaced helicopter footage for getting aerial views of natural disasters, sporting events, and other news. Heck, we even have drone footage of Seapine's headquarters.

9. Thumbprint Banking

While in the Hill Valley square, Marty is approached by a man trying to save the clock tower, who asks him to "thumb" a donation. He is holding a tablet-like device that has a thumbprint scanner. Later, Biff pays for a cab ride using a similar device. Sound familiar? If you've used Apple iPay on an iPhone 6, it probably does. The iPhone 6 (and, now, 6s) use a thumbprint scanner to unlock the phone and authorize wireless payments via iPay.

10. Baseball

Right after meeting the clock tower guy, Marty sees a holographic billboard announcing that the Cubs won the World Series, beating "Miami." Back in 1989, Miami didn't have a baseball team, but today, it has the Miami Marlins. And while the Cubs haven't made it to the series yet, they are at least in the playoffs. Will they go all the way? If they do, it won't be over Miami, so Back to the Future II can only get this half right, at best. [caption id="attachment_17837" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Go Cubs! Will 2015 really be the Cubs' year? (CREDIT: Universal Pictures)[/caption]

11. Smart Home Technology

When the police find Jennifer asleep in the alley, they also use her thumbprint to identify her. Then they take her "home" and use her thumbprint to unlock her front door. They tell her it's not safe to have the lights on, and when she drowsily repeats, "Lights on," the house turns on the lights. There's also what looks like a camera next to the front door, possibly to identify visitors before opening the door. All this technology exists today, albeit a little smarter and smaller than what Zemeckis envisioned.

12. Flexible Video Screens

When Jennifer wakes up, one of the first things she sees is a malfunctioning video screen that is later rolled up like a window shade. While we're not quite to the stage of using flexible OLEDs as shades yet, they do exist.

13. Flatscreen TVs

Although flatscreen TVs and monitors are everywhere now, they weren't back in 1989. Like flexible video screens, flat TVs were something Zemeckis thought were futuristic...because back then, all televisions looked something like this: [caption id="attachment_17839" align="aligncenter" width="400"]tv Forget mounting this sucker on a wall.[/caption]

14. Video Conferencing and Social Profiles

Future Marty gets a call from Douglas J. Needles on that flat screen TV at one point. This isn't something unique to Back to the Future, though; video phones have been a sci-fi staple since the 50s. But take a look at the still below. Notice anything? [caption id="attachment_17841" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Video Call CREDIT: Universal Pictures[/caption] While Marty is talking to Needles, he sees a scrolling social profile of Needles' interests at the bottom of the screen. It's almost like Facebook and Skype had a baby! Or maybe FaceTime and LinkedIn. And no, we don't have this combination yet, but it wouldn't be to difficult to develop an integration between a video streaming platform and a social media site that works like this. I'll bet someone will be Kickstarting it soon.

15. Video Glasses

Both of future McFly teens have video glasses that they use to watch video and take calls. Although they're pretty ugly by comparison, these devices definitely evoke Google Glass—which is funny, considering Google Glass has already come and gone. Then again, they also look like a trimmer version of a VR headset, a technology which is just now starting to take off. Maybe the young McFlys were checking their Facebook feeds on those glasses...

Two Things That Only Exist Because of Back to the Future II

And then there are the things that exist in our 2015 only because Zemeckis created them for his 2015. The shoes. The drink. The hat.

16. Nike Air Mags

This definitely falls into the category of something that exists only because it was in the movie: Nike's self-tying shoes, the Air Mags. Nike produced a limited run of these in 2011, sold only through eBay to support Michael J. Fox's Foundation for Parkinson's Research. They look right and light up, but they don't self-lace. Technically, however, they do exist in 2015. And they look great with a prismatic hat, which we also have.

17. Pepsi Perfect

Another thing that only exists because it was in the movie? Pepsi Perfect. Marty orders one while he's in the 80s Cafe, and now—just for today—it's available for sale on Amazon.com. Supplies are limited, though, so by the time you read this, they may all have vanished like a DeLorean going 88 MPH. [video width="1080" height="540" mp4="http://www.seapine.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/pepsi.mp4" loop="true" autoplay="true"][/video]

BONUS: Jaws 19

No, it's not a real movie, but to honor the day, we at least have a trailer for Jaws 19. This time, it's really, really personal. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl092whRLlI[/embed]