Today—21 October 2015—was the futuristic date to which Marty McFly travelled forward thirty years in time in the classic sci-fi movie Back to the Future Part II.

21 October 2015

While we aren't travelling around in flying cars or tearing it up on a hoverboard, Back to the Future II included some scarily accurate predictions about the future of digital communications, computing and the media.

So what did it get right?

  • Video communication: Old Marty talks with his co-workers on video through his TV. This is commonplace today particularly in a business setting, with around 5.7 million Australians working out of the office via digital platforms. The rapid take-up of smartphone and smart TV devices and the availability of easy-to-use applications Skype and FaceTime has facilitated a huge increase in video communication.
  • Flat and flexible screens: In 1985 television sets were the traditional box shaped cathode ray tubes monitors. Back to the Future II correctly predicted large flat screen displays which became widespread by the mid-2000s. In the film the McFly family has a television screen showing images of scenery which can rolled up and show the window behind it. Similar types of technology have been developed by Samsung, Nokia, and Apple. South Korean company LG last year presented a flexible 18–inch OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TV panel which can be rolled up like a newspaper, as well as one which is transparent.
  • Wearable technology: As the McFly children eat their hydrated pizza they can be seen wearing oversized glasses to watch television shows. The Google Glass prototype and the upcoming Oculus Rift are a similar idea. Smart clothing is also shown in the film. Self-tying shoes are being developed by Nike and smart fitness clothing to measure movement, heart rate and breathing patterns are also near commercial.
  • Tablet computers: The movie also predicted the rise of tablet computers, such as those seen when Marty is approached to sign a petition to protect the town clock tower and when Biff pays for a taxi. The release of the tablet devices by Apple and Samsung in 2010 made tablet computers a household item for many. In Australia, it is estimated 47 per cent of homes have at least one tablet device.

What types of technology do you think we will have 30 years from now?