10 High-Tech Gadgets That Actually Exist In Real Life

It may have been over 30 years since the Back to the Future trilogy first exploded into theaters and won every kid’s heart with its array of awesome and creative gadgets but that doesn’t mean the second movie’s vision of the distant future doesn’t remain one of the coolest even now. In fact, stars Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are still rocking new Back to the Future merch today.

Of course, technology has now had plenty of chance to catch up to the franchise’s creative take on what the distant year of 2015 might look like and that means a ton of the movie series’ gadgets exist now. From ones that have become mainstream like fingerprint scanners and smart homes to ones that are still some way off from truly entering the market, these are just some that have come to fruition.


Marty’s Wheelless Hoverboard Is Now Possible

Back To The Future Hoverboards

Aside from Doc’s time-traveling DeLorean, which is still a long way off from ever existing for obvious reasons, the most iconic gadget in the entire Back to the Future trilogy is Marty’s pink hoverboard. Whilst hoverboards have been around for a while, the “hoverboards” on the market now are more accurately described as “self-balancing scooters” as they still have wheels in contact with the ground.

However, for anyone wanting something a little closer to the movie’s depiction of the gadget, wheelless hoverboards have been a thing for a while, albeit still a long way from properly hitting the market. As explained in BBC Future, hoverboards that use magnets, semiconductors, and liquid nitrogen to stay suspended above the ground have been a reality for a long time now.

Back To The Future’s TV Glasses Are Very Similar To VR Headsets

Back to the Future II Goggles screenshot

In Robert Zemeckis’ vision of the future, almost everyone had their pair of high-tech glasses that could do everything from making phone calls to watching TV. Whilst attempted projects like Google Glass may have been closer to the more multipurpose aspect of this gadget, it’s impossible not to equate them to the increasingly popular market for VR headsets.

On the Meta website, the Quest 2 boasts an incredible 1832×1920 pixels per eye, meaning owners can watch TV on their headsets at a far higher quality than could have been imagined in the late 80s. Of course, what Back to the Future 2 didn’t account for was how gaming would become its primary function.

Flying Cars Have Technically Existed Longer Than Back To The Future

Marty standing on top of Docs flying DeLorean in Back to the Future

In the case of flying cars in Back to the Future 2, it’s less so the concept and more so the widespread and practical application of it that’s the futuristic part. That’s because cars have been spreading their wings and taking to the skies since at least the 1930s, according to Ripleys‘ brief history of the technology.

Unfortunately, it would perhaps be more accurate to call these early vehicles road-capable planes rather than flying cars simply due to their impracticality. Of course, cars are constantly evolving as once-futuristic technology becomes more mainstream and it seems only a matter of time before companies like AeroMobil begin to deliver on their high promise.

Back To The Future Predicted Fingerprint ID Scanners

Jennifer's fingerprint gets scanned in Back to the Future 2

Though the application of the technology in Back to the Future 2 was significantly more dystopian than how the technology has entered the mainstream in the real world, there’s no denying that the movie foresaw how important biometric data would become in the future.

The movie shows multiple uses of the technology, one in which the police use a dedicated device to scan Jennifer’s finger and reveal a bunch of her data and another where her finger is used to open the front door of her house. In real life, they’re most often used to unlock smart devices instead. According to Expert Insights, there remains some doubt surrounding the security of the technology which is likely why it isn’t yet on everyone’s front door as in the movie.

Modern Smart Homes Have Caught Up To The McFly’s House

An older Marty McFly enters his smart house in 2015 in Back to the Future

Whilst not every smart home gadget is a hit, it’s grown into a massive industry in recent years to the point where a lot of the smart features of the McFly’s 2015 house are now relatively straightforward to implement if not common. Most notably, their home greets them when they walk through the door and the lights can be activated with a voice command.

According to Statista, almost 37% of households in the U.S. had at least one smart home device by 2020 and that figure was on the rise. It’s more than likely these included an AI like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, which can both be programmed to give “welcome home” messages and to turn on lights with a voice command.

Nike Has Recently Made Marty’s Self-Tying Trainers A Reality

Marty McFly looking down at his Nike trainers in Back to the Future

Since there were few better pieces of advertising for the massive sportswear giant than Marty’s excellent Nike trainers with the ability to tie their laces, it’s about time Nike repaid the favor by making self-lacing shoes a reality. Luckily, that’s exactly what they’ve started doing.

According to Nike themselves, their new Adapt line of trainers utilizes an innovative lacing system that adjusts to the shape of the wearer’s foot to ensure the right fit. The shoes can be charged wirelessly when not in use and the fit can be adjusted via a smartphone or smartwatch app. The only thing stopping them from being a great tech gift is the steep price tag.

Back To The Future Predicted Remote Video-Calling Devices

Marty getting fired via video call in Back to the Future 2

Whilst it might not be the most eye-catching gadget in Back to the Future, the television in the McFly’s home that Marty uses to talk to his boss and Needles via video call is something that became a reality in a big way. Video-calling devices and apps are so ubiquitous now that it hardly seems futuristic at all.

Whilst laptops and smartphones are more commonly used for video calls, Smart TVs, consoles, and screen-casting technology all make video-calling on television simple to do and plenty of outlets like Digitaltrends offer guides on the many ways to get it set up. It might have seemed novel at the time but Marty getting fired by video call isn’t so unusual in the modern world.

The Digital Payment Device In Back To The Future’s Taxis

The digital payment device in a taxi Back to the Future 2

Whilst people don’t directly use their thumb to pay for things in the real world, that doesn’t mean this technology doesn’t exist in a roundabout way. For a start, Back to the Future‘s prediction that payments would be digital and as simple as tapping something against a scanner was entirely correct, as paying via smartphone and contactless card are now completely normal.

Since people are using their phones to pay, which may be secured with a thumbprint, the reality isn’t far off from Back to the Future 2‘s prediction. Meanwhile, apps like Uber have made paying for taxis a completely remote process with no contact required, going a step further even than the movie’s thumbprint payment technology.

Tablets And Apps Have Made Back To The Future’s Digital Waiters A Reality

The video waiter in Cafe 80s in Back to the Future 2

One of the least appealing futuristic devices in Back to the Future 2 was the digital waiter in Cafe 80’s that greets Marty with an extremely glitchy video interface. Whilst modern waiters aren’t video-based, restaurants certainly do use screen devices to do the job that real waiters once did.

As far back as 2017, outlets like Washington Post were touting touchscreens as the future of ordering at restaurants, allowing customers to place their orders without interacting with a real waiter at all. In more recent years, many restaurants have their apps that will enable customers to order remotely.

Drones Have Made The Flying USA Today Cameras Possible

The USA Today flying news camera in Back to the Future 2

Though the press generally still makes use of old-fashioned cameramen to get footage of events as they happen, the flying USA Today camera that appears on the scene when Griff gets arrested certainly isn’t unrealistic in the modern day. The rapid advancement of drone technology is shaping the future in a variety of ways and one of them has been for recording video footage.

According to Time, drones have been revolutionizing the way movies and television shows are being made for a while and that’s largely thanks to their affordability and ability to get shots that would usually have required a helicopter.

NEXT: 10 Memorable High-Tech Gadgets From The Spy Kids Franchise, Ranked Least To Most Useful


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