The future has arrived

Nike has confirmed that its futuristic “self-lacing” shoes seen in Back to the Future Part II will be hitting the markets in 2015 as predicted.

The Nike MAG shoes, made famous by Marty McFly in 1989’s sci-fi hit, featured a funky futuristic design which had some flashy lights and laces that could tie themselves.

Nike has since dubbed the auto-tying tech “Power Laces”, and has confirmed they will be hitting the shelves this year.

“Are we going to see Power Laces in 2015? To that, I say yes,” said Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield at a recent show.

There’s no exact release date set for the shoe tech just yet.

The Nike shoes were only one of many futuristic and fanciful technologies shown in the movie’s universe set in 2015.

Here are some of the other technologies featured in the movie’s fictional future that either hit the nail on the head, or at least threw a line in the right direction.

Hoverboard

The fantasy

In the movie, hoverboards were widespread among the youth and made by a variety of manufacturers. They weren’t all-terrain, and worked off user momentum or rocket propulsion.

Back to the Future hoverboard
Back to the Future hoverboard

The reality

While there’s no way all the hip kids will be hovering across town on an affordable and commercially viable hoverboard this year, the fanciful item certainly exists.

In late 2014 engineers in North California developed the Hendo Hoverboard, which floats about an inch off the ground, powered by four magnetic disc-shaped engines.

Unfortunately, the board needs a special surface to hover over, and the ride only lasts 7 minutes.

Video glasses

The fantasy

The movie depicted these fashion items as devices which allowed wearers to watch TV and video phone other people.

Back to the Future glasses
Back to the Future glasses

The reality

Google Glass, which has been around for a couple of years, does the job. The device allows for video feedback, phone calls, voice activation, and a whole lot mroe.

The only thing that failed to match the movie is the pervasiveness of use. Currently the full commercial launch of the gadget is unknown.

Hovercam

The fantasy

The movie depicted hovercams as robotic cameras that would fly to the scene of events and film the happenings for broadcast purposes.

Back to the Future hovercam
Back to the Future hovercam

The reality

Drone technology has opened the door for this exact kind of coverage. While perhaps not as advanced yet, CNN is definitely looking into it.

Real-world use of drones also extends beyond reporting and capturing footage, such as the use in delivery of goods. There are a number of regulatory hurdles that still need to be dealt with, though.

Holographic billboards

The fantasy

The movie showed holographic technology being used in advertising – most notably the “holomax” (like today’s 3D, perhaps?) release of Jaws 19, which is thankfully not being released this year.

Back to the Future billboard
Back to the Future billboard

The reality

We’re still a while away from seeing widespread commercial use of holographic tech in things like marketing – but the technology has brought dead musicians such as Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur ‘back to life’ for concert appearances.

On the marketing side, digital advertising panels are slowly getting more advanced and finding new ways to creatively capture the consumer’s eye.

Bionic implants

The fantasy

In the 2015 of Back to the Future, people could get bionic implants that would augment a wide array of traits, giving extra strength or better sight, for example.

Back to the Future bionics
Back to the Future bionics

The reality

Sadly, we’re not at the level of digital augmentation that the movie represents, but science is finding new ways to augment our abilities.

And that is on top of major advances in prosthetics – we now have prostheses which can be controlled by their owners, using nerves, muscles, or even the brain.

A group of Korean and US researchers have even developed a type of prosthetic skin, which can mimic the elastic and high-resolution sensory capabilities of real skin.

Thumb pad

The fantasy

In Marty McFly’s 2015, people would use thumb pads as a means of accessing their homes and making payments. The pads used thumb prints.

Back to the Future thumb pad
Back to the Future thumb pad

The reality

Biometrics have been around for a while, and are increasingly being incorporated into the technologies we use every day.

While not as wide-spread and used for anything and everything as shown in the movie, with mobile payments seen as the next frontier – and with the likes of Apple already integrating biometrics into its transactions – the fantasy is not that far removed.

Video telephone

The fantasy

Video telephones allowed people to converse via their TV screens. A pretty simple concept, by today’s standards.

Back to the Future video call
Back to the Future video call

The reality

Skype has been around for 11 years. Not only can we communicate with people on the other side of the world via our computer screens, video chat is pretty much a given on most smart mobile devices.

More on technology of the future

South Africa’s police car of the future

What will the search engine of the future be?

Google gives a glimpse into the future of self-driving cars

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The future has arrived