The anticipated objects from Back to the Future that actually exist today

In recent days we happened to review the entire Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future trilogythree films that have accompanied the childhood and adolescence of many of us, capable of anticipate many of the technological objects that actually exist today – particularly in Part 2 set in 2015.

Portable drones

Made in 1989, Back to the Future Part 2 saw the protagonists Doc and Marty travel to October 21, 2015, where in the skies small drones were flying. These were capable of taking photographs for local newspapers and for the time seemed really science fiction. Today a drone for personal use costs a few hundred euros, it is also a widespread trend in Italy.

Contactless payments

Today paying in a shop or restaurant by bringing your phone or smartphone close to the POS is common practice for millions of users around the world, but in 1989 it was pure science fiction. In Zemeckis’ film we have two examples of contactless payments: in the first, Marty Donate money electronically to save the historic clock tower of Hill Valley, in the second the old Biff pays the taxi without cash, anticipating what will then somehow be Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay in the real world.

Biometric recognition technologies

blankRemember how the citizens of Hilldale managed to get into their homes? Simply placing their finger on a plank with biometric recognition. Well that fantastic technology has also arrived in the real world, on smartphones that we use every day and not only – indeed there are already 3D facial recognition technologies capable of exceeding the reliability of fingerprints.

Smart clothing

blankIn recent years a new category of technological products has literally exploded: you can define them “wearable smart objects” and they can be smartwatches like shoes capable of closing their laces by themselves (Nike really made its self-lacing shoes). In the film we went a little further, with jackets able to automatically adjust their size or to dry when wet, maybe we’ll get to that soon…

Video calls

blankToday video calling someone has become very normal, even with COVID-19 it has been crucial, with millions of people able to stay in touch with their loved ones right through video calls. The world of work has also changed a lot, with “calls” active practically all day with colleagues around the world, another novelty anticipated in some way by Back to the Future Part 2.

Video games without controllers and headsets

blankRemember the scene inside the Caffè ’80, how much Wild Gunman was it called a game for children only because it needed the player’s hands to work? Well Microsoft with its Kinect it effectively negated the need for a physical gamepad, turning our own body into a controller. That technology hasn’t broken through is another matter, but Back to the Future predicted how video games could become ultra-interactive. Furthermore Marty McFly Junior wears a headset to a family dinnerand we know how Apple, Amazon and Facebook are investing (among others) in virtual reality for applications of the future (Facebook launches the Metaverse viewer). Devices like Google Glass have even integrated augmented reality technologies into simple glasses.

About what they have wrong instead the authors of Back to the Future Part 2? Well for sure no one uses faxes anymore (in 2015 there was one in every room), moreover, there is still a lack of “mini drones” capable of walking the dog for us. Holographic ads? There is still no trace of it, except for some experiments; even the flying cars (as understood in the film) are missing. If we exclude some futuristic prototypes, there are not even the mythical flying Hoverboards, with or without motors, even if we have gotten a little closer with electric scooters… Furthermore, still speaking of cars, there is still no real market for waste-powered carshowever we have biofuel of biological origin (Pros and Cons of biofuels). Who knows that in the future, given the current energy crisis…

The anticipated objects from Back to the Future that actually exist today