Hoverboard from Back to the Future Movie

Great Scott! Back to the Future is Now!

Great Scott!

Today’s the day Michael J. Fox has been paranoid about for years. It’s the day Marty McFly arrives into 2015.

So apart from the fact that we’re all going to start dressing like this today:


What did Back to the Future get right?

We’ll start with the most famous, most desperately coveted thing to come out of that film: The trusty Hoverboard. It’s flying skateboard that will let you get away from any and all bullies. We’re a lot closer to having one than you might think, and no, I don’t mean those weird foot-Segway-dealies (which I hate, and envy at the same time). Here’s a video of Tony Hawk riding one in a little metal half pipe.

It uses powerful magnets to push it away from a conductive surface. So you could have one too for the low, low price of covering everything you’ve ever loved in copper. Which in my opinion is worth it.

What about the flying cars though, what about the other childhood dream, where are we there? Well, you can make cars that fly. Here’s one of many videos of prototypes.

Annoyingly, the problem here is less to do with the flying cars and more the squishy things that drive them. The first problem is that they tend not to be cars, just planes you can also drive on the road. That means they need runways, which tend to be in short supply in inner city Dublin. The other problem is the idiot behind the wheel. People are bad enough when all they have to deal with is left and right. Could you imagine the chaos if they had to deal with “up”? Maybe when computers take over the world they’ll deal with that for us

One thing we are starting to see happen though, is cars that run on rubbish. Both Bristol and Bath in the UK have started to run buses that run on methane gas generated from sewage and other household rubbish. Moreover, the silent hum of the cars in Back to the Future is already being seen with electric cars becoming widespread, scaring the living daylights out of anyone not paying close enough attention.

Image: Occulus Rift
Image: Oculus Rift

Another massive advance we are seeing is in wearable electronics. Marty had a jacket that talked to him, but what we have today might be more exciting. There have been wearable patches made that monitor the vital signs of those wearing them, possibly alerting them to any dangers they might be about to face. We’re even starting to see smartglasses appear, with headset technology like the Oculus Rift and augmented reality based Google Glass. And while we’re talking about all things wearable, it should be pointed out that Nike have filed a patent for self-tying shoes.

Do you remember the giant cheesy hologram advertisement for Jaws 19? Boy am I glad we have nothing like that now…except for all the hype that comes with each new IMAX 3-D film. And we’re on something like Batman 24 now…so yeah, maybe there was some truth to that bit.

Back to the Future suggested a lot of awesome things, but it missed some too. It missed the connections we have today. It missed the internet’s power to keep us informed and amazed, and instead imagined we’d be sending faxes from the pavement, instead of emails from the toilet. Which is worrying and wonderful at the same time. But I still want my hoverboard.

So if you’re feeling so desperate for some back to the future stylings, you can buy Marty’s Pepsi bottle…if you have 20 dollars to drop. I might just watch the film again.

Pepsi on hoverboard
Image: paleofuture.gizmodo.com