Back to the Future II provided a vision of the year 2015 that remains imprinted in my mind. Flying cars, a jacket that dries automatically, self-tightening sneakers, and yes, the hoverboard. When the movie debuted in 1989 I was only 8 years old. The year 2015 seemed like a distant future date that would really never arrive. This future appeared as a magical land far, far away. For many in my generation Back to the Future II represented the standard of what the future would bring. I saw the Terminator movies as fantastical science fiction about our future, but I had subconsciously adopted Back to the Future II as the text book for the future. Oh, how we are falling short. Let me count the ways.
No flying cars, but I don’t really see any practical need for them. What a nightmare for air traffic controllers! Can you imagine an ntire generation of teenagers given permission to fly cars in drivers ed?
No self-drying jacket. I imagine this could possibly be done, but the market doesn’t seem to be demanding this particular feature in a jacket and would probably make the jacket unreasonably expensive.
No self-tightening sneakers. Nike actually produced a non-functional replica of the shoe in 2011. This kind of tech also strikes me as feasible if Nike really sought to develop it in 2015. Like the jacket, this strikes me as being neither cost efficient or in demand.
And finally the crème de la crème: the hoverboard. This was a sort of icon of my future. It also seems possible, if not by the means of an “anti-gravity” source that the movie hoverboard seems to use. A hover bike already exists and is in development using propellers, but this is not the safest option for a small board with feet a couple inches above. A crowd-funding project started on indiegogo in the summer of 2013 to develop a real hoverboard, but they only raised $3,098 of the $1 million goal.
Although we have fallen short on all these technologies, I am still amazed with how far we have come with smartphones, tablets, and our soon-to-be smart homes probably around 2015.