2015: Living in Marty McFly’s Future

"Back to the Future II" (1989) Photo: Universal Studios

“Back to the Future II” (1989) Photo: Universal Studios

Niamh McGovern, Editor

It’s 2015. Look around, and you probably won’t see flying cars or automated cafés. You probably don’t own a hover board. You won’t be eating a hydrated Pizza Hut tonight. Tomorrow, Marty and Doc will finally arrive in the future, travelling from 1985 to October 21st, 2015, a future with hoverboards, self-lacing shoes and age rejuvenating skin. But our future isn’t much different than the future Marty McFly and Doc Brown visited in November 1989.

Back To The Future II was an exaggerated vision of the future, but it did get a few things right. While hoverboards aren’t standard transport today, they are a reality in 2015. Lexus revealed it’s own hoverboard back in August this year, although they won’t be mass manufacturing anytime soon. Upstarting company Hendo are completing a hoverboard park this month, with $250,000 in Kickstarter funds. Hendo not only imagines a future of hoverboard transportation, they want to use the hover technology, Magnetic Field Architecture, to equip buildings and structures in natural disasters, hoping to initiate “the rise of the hoverboard” (pun probably intended).

Photo: Universal Pictures

Photo: Universal Pictures

Remember those digital glasses Marty’s kids were overusing? Everyday, around the world, we use them too. Google Glass became available to the public last year, enabling us to phone, message, read and take photos with a pair of glasses. In fact we have been using virtual reality display in games and simulators since the early 1990s.  In 1989, ‘smart glasses’ and digital head mounted displays were already imagined as part of our future.

Photo: Universal Studios

Voice recognition and flat screen television are part of our everyday life in 2015, but they were already predicted in 1989. The McFly’s enjoy multi-channel televisions and their own voice recognition doorbell, a prototype for Apple’s Siri and split screen technology today. 2015 is a world of automatic passports and face recognition, already used by Doc Brown’s spy-toy binoculars in 1989.

Photo: Universal Pictures

Photo: Universal Pictures

Video Calling may have seemed futuristic in 1989 as a replacement for the telephone, but it’s very much a part of everyday life for the current generations. Most of us hold the power to film and communicate with our face in a small device we carry everywhere. In Back To The Future I, Doc Brown was astounded by a video recorder the size of a small engine – now its smaller than our hands. The one crucial difference in 1989, was the opinion on the fax machine which was still alive and thriving in Marty’s 2015, when it will probably die for us quite soon.

Photo: Universal Studios

Photo: Universal Studios

Remember that fingerprint recognition technology used by Biff to pay for his cab? Apple launched Apple Pay earlier this year, allowing the public to transfer money using Touch ID on an Apple phone or tablet. You can purchase on the internet using a fingerprint on Samsung and Paypal. Fingerprint scanners have been in our schools, hospitals and offices since 2000, and this year we began paying with them – did 2015 strike Universal Studios as the year of the future? It would seem so, or at least they were remarkably clever in their predictions.

Photo: Universal Studios

Photo: Universal Studios

What about the leather jacket and space-esque shoes? While we may not enjoy self-drying clothes and automatic lacing shoes, we do live in an age of smart clothing. We can control our clothes from our phone, or wear a Smart Watch on our wrist, another Apple release this year. What’s more, the filmmakers were fairly accurate in predicting fashion trends for 2015. Shoes resemble moon boots more every year, perhaps Nike took inspiration from Marty McFly in 2015.

Photo: Universal Studios

Photo: Universal Studios

Our biggest downfall? We don’t mass manufacture flying cars in this century. Although – we do live in a year that has seen the biggest increase in electrical cars. Doc’s car claims to run on electric in the future, not radioactive plutonium. Flying cars may also become standard automobiles in near future; Slovakian company AeroMobil unveiled their prototype in March, which they hope to produce by 2017 after meeting the criteria for both road and air vehicles in Europe. The car can reach 124 mph in-air, currently in the final prototype stage of manufacture. While we don’t have actual flying cars in our cities, the future of 1989 is becoming a reality in 2015.

Photo: Universal Studios

Photo: Universal Studios

While we cannot take our hoverboard out for a ride, or fly to America from our driveway, our future is a remarkably parallel version to the one Marty McFly and Doc Brown visit. The only obvious drawback – our inability to travel thirty years from ourselves and predict 2045 for our future generations.

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