“Back to the Future Part II” Technology: Are We There Yet?

Posted on November 10, 2016 | Updated on June 13, 2023

When “Back to the Future Part II” was released in 1989, it was hard not to be caught up in the exciting vision of the future presented in the film. While the future was shown in an over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek way, we all wanted to believe that power-lacing sneakers and hoverboards would become a reality.

Sadly, the latter never really came true, but a number of the predictions – including the power-lacing sneakers and of course the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series – became a reality. Here’s what the film got right in its predictions of life in 2015.

Flying cars are something of a sore subject for “Back to the Future” fans. We’ve been waiting for decades now for flying cars, and all the great sci-fi stories led us to believe they’d be here by the year 2016. That, as we all know, did not happen.

Alternative Energy Cars

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

While flying cars might never become a reality, “Back to the Future Part II” did predict the rise of cars not needing fuel and instead using alternative energy. Early in the film, Doc Brown digs through some trash after parking the DeLorean. A bewildered Marty asks what he’s doing, to which Doc matter-of-factly replies that he needs fuel. The rubbish goes inside a device called the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor, which converts the waste into energy.

For obvious reasons, powering cars through nuclear fusion hasn’t caught on. Can you imagine the roads full of tiny nuclear reactors? However, different forms of nonfuel powered cars have become a reality. Electric cars are all the rage these days. Electric is expected to become the standard over the next couple decades.

These cars are impressive and all, but they still don’t hold a candle to the Mr. Fusion-powered DeLorean. Something closer to that wonderful invention is Tesla’s plans to unveil a solar roof on cars that could refuel a vehicle as it drives.

In some ways, this solar-powered roof thing can be better than Mr. Fusion. After all, there will be no need to dig through the trash to find infinite sources of energy. All you need to do is make sure you can afford a Tesla.

Power-Lacing Sneakers

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

Probably the most desired bit of tech in “Back to the Future Part II,” aside from the flying cars and the hoverboards, was Marty’s power-lacing sneakers. These Nike-branded shoes were ridiculous in the best possible way. Something about these shoes really resonated with people. They were so desired, in fact, that they become a reality more than 25 years later.

Nike produced the Nike Mag this year in extremely limited quantities. That scarcity is a problem for people who want to own an actual pair, but the good news is that all the proceeds benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is dedicated to driving Parkinson’s disease research.

This isn’t the first time Nike made a version of the shoes, either. In 2011, a charity auction for a similar shoe went for $4.7 million. “Great Scott!” is all that can be said after seeing that price.

The Smart Home

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

When “Back to the Future Part II” came out back in 1989, the futuristic McFly home was mind-blowing. A connected home, where one can easily make video conference calls or use software to turn on the lights at a certain time, seemed impossible. Now the technology seems positively quaint.

Smart homes have been rising in both popularity and sophistication in the past few years. One of the most popular uses of a smart home is a programmable thermostat that helps people save on heating costs.

Like the film shows with the lights, programmable lighting systems are also feasible. These lights can be set for certain times and be controlled via a phone.

Beyond the lights and the thermostats, homeowners are installing smart security systems to help keep their homes safe.

The actual technology turned out better than what was presented in the film. The only thing worse is that we don’t eat dehydrated pizzas from Pizza Hut – at least not yet.


Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

Doc Brown was well versed in future tech when he brought Marty to the future. One of his devices was a watch that could predict the weather down the to the second. While weather technology has a long way to go if it wants to be that accurate, wearable technology is now a reality.

Smarwatches, fitness trackers and similar wearable technology is now thoroughly in the mainstream. Tech companies like Apple are investing lots of money in the technology, while even old-fashioned watch companies like Fossil are pushing wearable technology.

This prediction from the film is especially impressive considering the internet wasn’t a thing and cellphones were ridiculous at the time of release.

What’s Next?

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

“Back to the Future Part II” was something of a parody of futurism, but the predictions were based in reality. Some of the gadgets and tech from the film were impressively prescient. Despite those breakthroughs, the lack of a real hoverboard – at least, one that won’t catch on fire while you’re using it – is extremely heartbreaking. When will it finally become a reality?

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