I watched Back to the Future Part II today, because it's the future now. It was actually pretty fun to compare the 2015 shown in the film with what we have now. Just for the heck of it, I took some notes:
Doc wears metal shades over his eyes. It's clear that he can see, even though they appear completely opaque. A later line indicates that he has a rear-view display on the interior surface while driving, so perhaps there's a miniature camera that lets him see what's in front of him, or maybe they're one-way transparent. Later on the McFly kids are shown with wearable electronics over their eyes. Of course, we have Google Glass, though it doesn't sit right on top of the field of vision (which is likely a good thing).
The DeLorean is powered by Mr. Fusion, a personal nuclear fusion power source. The only fusion power we harness today is the sun.
Probably the biggest question people ask about the supposed future we now live in is, "Where is my flying car?" They do in fact exist, but are no more than prototypes. They also face the very real practical concern that we have enough problems driving in two dimensions. Of course, with no flying cars, there are no floating skyways. Surprisingly, the $40k price tag for converting a regular car to be able to fly sounds like a steal. (Side note: Self-driving cars weren't actually shown in the film, but Google is prototyping them.)
Doc uses a sleep-inducing alpha rhythm generator on Jennifer (and Marty Jr. off-screen), causing near instantaneous unconciousness. Google tells me that patents exist for such devices, though they're nothing like the device Doc uses.
The DeLorean has a reflective bar code license plate, apparently to make it easier for machines to read. (Unfortunately, it also makes it much harder for humans to read, which would be a big problem.) Modern optical character recognition can read regular license plates just fine, no bar codes needed.
Mastery of weather control by 2015? Yeah, right.
The film shows bundles of discarded LaserDiscs near dumpsters. The format only became dominant in Japan and some areas of southeast Asia in the 90s.
Doc visits a rejuvination clinic that cleans up his blood, revitalizes his organs, extends his lifespan by decades, and makes him look younger. Yeah, we don't have that. Later in the film, however, the cops are amazed by Jennifer's "facelift," not realizing she's a young Jennifer from the past.
Doc has a container with a smart glass side panel. Smart glass exists today, but isn't all that widespread at this point.
Doc's camera looks startlingly like a modern smart phone. This is probably the most accurate future tech in the film.
Electronic clothing is mostly a novelty today. One interesting example I ran across a while back was a shirt that doubled as a wi-fi signal detector. Our electronics seem to remain segregated from our clothing, and we certainly don't have anything like the jacket Marty wears, which self-adjusts its size and blows itself dry. Nike did file a patent for self-lacing shoes in 2009, and last year a Nike designer did say that power laces were going to come out this year, though who knows if that's actually going to happen. The smart watch is probably the closest thing we have that's anywhere near common use today.
Future fashion is weird in Hill Valley. Doc wears a transparent necktie, and future Marty later wears two neckties side-by-side whose designs line up. Kids in 2015 Hill Valley wear their pants inside-out. Is that a thing today? I don't think so, though I wouldn't be surprised. Griff wears boots with funny spikes on the toes, and his cronies have abstract designs painted on their faces. The girl in the group has "claws" attached to her fingers. One of Griff's cronies has a chest-mounted audio board. What? The female pedestrians seem to wear clothes that resemble leotards, which seem hilariously out of fashion today.
Marty enters a cafe with an 80s nostalgia theme. Take a look at the movies that have come out in the last decade. Yep, people are indeed nostalgic for the 80s.
There's something called Pepsi Perfect, and Marty needs a $50 bill to pay for it.
Newspapers are still going strong in the film's version of 2015. USA Today has 3 billion readers and runs city-specific editions. I'm not sure because the text was too small to read, but it looks like it cost $8.
USA Today is produced via something called compu-fax satellite, and the McFly home has no less than four fax machines, two of them right next to each other. There's also a curbside public "fax box" that appears to have replaced our public USPS mail boxes.
The headlines in the October 22, 2015 edition of USA Today are interesting:
SlamBall playoffs begin: SlamBall is an actual sport: it's basically basketball with trampolines. Their first televised championship was in 2002.
Cubs sweep series in 5: The Cubs haven't won the World Series for 106 years, the longest championship drought of any major North American professional sports team. Of course, it's not October yet, so we'll have to wait and see on this one. Marty later sees a display that indicates that they defeated Miami. This was a surprise to Marty, since Miami didn't have an MLB team in 1985 (and still didn't in 1989, when the film came out). Miami played their first game as the "Florida Marlins" (not with an alligator mascot as shown in the film) in 1993.
Marshall runs 3-minute mile: The current mile run record is 3:43.13, nowhere near the three minute mark. Cybernetic implants are not unheard-of in the film's version of 2015, but a later headline in the same paper says "Pitcher suspended for bionic arm use," so it seems like it wouldn't be condoned in running, either.
Thumb bandits strike after amputating thumbs of hospital patients: The film shows thumb scans in common use for securing homes and making payments. Biometrics has existed for quite a while now, but reliable thumb scanners aren't cheap enough for this. The less expensive ones, like you find in the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S5, have not turned out to be very reliable.
Man killed by falling litter: Likely a flying car reference.
Tokyo stocks up: Yes, the Tokyo Stock Exchange is still a thing.
Swiss terrorist threat may be real, say CIA officials: Google doesn't have anything significant about recent Swiss terrorists. But then, it's not October yet.
Shredding for charity is a way to raise money and save trees: Recycling push? There does seem to be large amounts of garbage lying around in Hill Valley.
President says she's tired of reporters asking the same questions: The 2015 of the film has a female US president.
Queen Diana will visit Washington tomorrow and the Capitol prepares / Washington prepares for Queen Diana's visit: Diana, Princess of Wales died August 31, 1997. This headline also predicts the death of Queen Elizabeth II; she's still alive and, if she stays that way, will be 89 years old at the time of the headline.
Kelp price increase is likely due [to] pollution of the South Pacific: We use kelp for making soap, glass, dental alginate, and as a food thickener. It's also being considered for use as a renewable energy source, which seems like it might be the scenario in this headline.
Jaws without bite: A reference to Jaws 19, which was advertised with a 3D holographic display at a nearby theater. Of course, we have 3D movies, but not with holograpic display as shown in the movie. The Jaws franchise had only four films, the first of which was directed by Steven Spielberg. (Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment produced the Back to the Future films.) The last Jaws movie came out in 1987, two years before BttF2. Jaws 19 is shown to be directed by Max Spielberg, which is the name of Steven Spielberg's real-life son, who is turning 30 this year. The theater is branded "Holomax"; maybe a holographic version of Cinemax?
Car owners revolt: Maybe a flying car reference?
Okay, that's it for the newspaper. What else?
A mobile trash bin called a "Litter Bug" is seen. No idea how it knows when someone has trash to throw away. Also, how do they prevent hooligans like Griff from stealing them?
An advertisment encourages passers-by to Surf Vietnam. Vietnam does in fact have good surfing, though it's hardly a common destination for US tourists. A pedestrian is also seen carrying a rocket-powered surfboard.
Lawyers have been abolished, and people can be sentenced as early as two hours after arrest. Um, no.
Texaco has automated service stations. Still no (though automated refueling technology exists).
Marty sees the all-important sports almanac in an antique shop. What else is considered antique?
- clothes irons
- VHS cassettes
- Lava lamps
- Macintosh 128K computers
- BurgerTime video games
- Magnavox Weekenders
- JVC televisions and video cameras
- Perrier glass water bottles
- Roger Rabbit toys
- Happy faces
- Jimmy Carter campaign materials
- Ken and Barbie dolls
- Pac Man arcade machines (seen in Cafe 80s)
Cafe 80s has electronic waiters displayed Max Headroom-style. It seems to me that they overestimated Max's impact. Cafe 80s also had menu screens at tables, which does exist but certainly isn't widespread.
Not sure why people were eating on stationary bicycles. Was that a thing in the 80s?
Kids are surprised that the Wild Gunman game requires players to use their hands. Gesture controls have existed for a long time, but have only recently become reliable enough for gaming. (Some would argue they still aren't.)
Griff carries an extending metal club resembling a baseball bat. Weird.
Ah, yes, hoverboards. Yes, I know Robert Zemeckis said in an interview that they exist but aren't available because of safety concerns. He was kidding. Last year a company came out that is planning to use magnetic levitation for warehouse pallets and such, but of course those wouldn't work on the surfaces you see in the film.
When Griff's gang crashes into the courthouse, a hovering news camera arrives to cover it.
$100 is considered spare change.
Dust jackets don't exist because now we have dust-repellant paper.
Recreational drug use appears to be legal and not uncommon. Marty mentions "driving trank," and the cops think the unconcious Jennifer is "tranked." (Short for "tranquilizer," maybe?) One cop says that Hilldale is a "breeding ground for tranks, lobos and zipheads."
Doc kept Einstein in a suspended animation kennel.
Curbs have embedded light segements.
Police have LED marquees on their hats, and their nightsticks have glow strips. The latter seems reasonable, but the former?
Home automation is shown to be fairly close to what we have today, although it is apparently more ubiquitous. The previously-mentioned thumb scanners are used for entry, and there are no doorknobs. The McFly house welcomes you by name, and the cops mention that the home should be programmed to turn lights on upon entry. Devices demonstrate voice command ability. Windows have "scene screens," although it's not clear how the image is displayed; perhaps their flexible screen tech is further along than ours? There are also small screens embedded in the walls. A little more outlandish is the rectractible hydroponic garden with fresh fruit and vegetables and the hydrator machine which can hydrate a pizza in seconds. No idea what "lithium control" is supposed to be.
Text-to-speech voice quality is lousy.
George is in an upside-down hover brace for his back.
Old Biff pays $174.50 for a taxi ride.
The McFlys have a large, voice-conrolled flat screen TV! It can show six channels at once. I figure the only reason we don't have that is that nobody wants it. (McFly Senior says to Junior "Watchin' a little TV for a change?" Maybe he spends a lot of time surfing the Internet on his face-mounted display?)
A dog is walked by a hovering drone. Quadcopters can do a lot today, but I don't think anyone is walking their dog with them yet.
Video conferencing works almost exactly like Skype, except that it's integrated into the TV instead of a portable device.
Receipts are printed on translucent blue plastic. Huh?