To Marty McFly, 2015 was the far-flung future he was dropped in by Doc Brown's DeLorean. To us, of course, it's just our everyday reality. Right now. While you're reading this. And while many of Back to the Future's (BTTF) predictions for the tech of 2015 were overly optimistic - Mr Fusion personal reactors, dog-walking drones and flying cars - we reckon Marty McFly would have loved some of the real world tech we've got right now.
We'd argue that these ten are a match for any of the tech in McFly's movie. Reckon we've missed one? Let us know in the comments.
Let's get the flying cars out of the way first, shall we? They're everywhere in BTTF and nowhere in the real world, partly because flying is much more energy-intensive than rolling cars around the roads and largely because the same goons who drive so badly on roads would be utterly lethal in the air. But while flying cars may be as far away from us now as they were in the 80s, we've got something much better - and it doesn't get its fuel from leftover food chucked into dangerous-looking reactors like the vehicles of BTTF.
We're talking Teslas. Tesla's electric cars have just been granted autopilot features via a software update, and apparently an automatic overtaking feature is in development too. That more than compensates for our crappy attempts at making hoverboards.
Many of our real world wearables are much more attractive - and considerably less bulky - than Marty McFly's smart jacket, whose features were limited to (a) automatically adjusting the fit, (b) drying quite well when wet and (c) yakking. We'd rather have an Apple Watch, thanks, not least because Apple Pay doesn't expose us to the risk of BTTF's Thumb Bandits, people who'd amputate thumbs to get round thumbprint-based payment systems.
Not every bit of wearable tech is an improvement on the fictional version, though: compare the Oculus VR or Microsoft Hololens to the VR specs Marty used in the movie and tell us the real versions aren't even more dorky.
Smart guitars & guitar games
Marty fancied himself as a bit of a rocker, and while he'd certainly recognise the shape and feel of the 2015 Gibson range we think he'd be blown away by the G-Force self-tuning tech that's now standard across the range. And of course, there's much more tech in music now from amp and effects modelling to the ability to cram an entire recording studio into a device small enough to put in your pocket. We'd take Marty to a Muse gig and watch his jaw drop.
Plus - he'd absolutely love Guitar Hero right?
BTTF had its food hydrators, which turned unappetising lumps into perfectly cooked pizza. We don't have that, but we do have 3D printers capable of some truly amazing things: creating guitars, perfecting prosthetics and even printing guns. They don't do pizzas yet, but that's coming: in 2014, mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor won a $25K grant to make a prototype food printer for astronauts. As fans of memory foam, dustbusters and Speedo Racer swimsuits know very well, what's developed for astronauts often ends up around or on us.
TVs were everywhere in BTTF's version of 2015, but even the best ones were smaller, less vivid and less detailed than what's currently sitting in your front room, let alone what's being shown off at 2015's electronics trade shows. Real world TV tech has jumped forwards dramatically in just a few years, and chances are you'll be watching your BTTF Blu-Ray on something with more pixels than anything invented for the 2015 you're seeing on screen.
Remember the bit when George McFly was strapped upside-down into an Ortho-Lev machine to fix his bad back? That was added to the script purely to disguise the fact that the actor playing him was no longer Crispin Glover but Jeffrey Weissman. In the real 2015, filmmakers just use CGI to put missing actors in the picture. The most recent example was Paul Walker, who died during filming of Fast & Furious 7: a combination of CGI and body doubles was used to complete his scenes.
4G, Wi-Fi and Netflix
In the 2015 of BTTF, CDs and Laserdiscs were the popular media formats of choice. For us, it's mobile broadband, Wi-Fi and Netflix, with a bit of Blu-Ray for anniversary releases of iconic 80s time travelling comedies. Hurrah for reality!
A pretty big omission, this one: while BTTF shows people using what appear to be tablets and smart TVs, it didn't mention the internet, which turned out to be a bit of a big deal. It wasn't the film's fault: the film's release coincided with Tim Berners-Lee's creation of the World Wide Web, an invention that would take several years to get everybody excited.
In BTTF's 2015, the fax machine was the preferred tool of social communication and news still came in newspapers. In the real 2015, we much prefer getting our news and gossip from Twitter, and if we read papers at all we tend to do it digitally. BTTF wasn't completely off, though: it did show the use of videoconferencing, albeit through TVs rather than computers or mobile devices. Speaking of which…
As BTTF screenwriter Bob Gale told The Hollywood Reporter, "we didn't think of that": like most futuristic thinkers, he failed to predict the single most important device in the history of gadgets. Gale's ideas were partly based on sensible predictions - he was certain the "flat-screen TV and the Skype-like communication" would arrive - and partly based on "goofing around". The news drones, which flew around the place taking pictures, were in the latter category: what BTTF joked about in the 80s is so prevalent today that the US is bringing in legislation to regulate it.