The ‘Back To The Future II’ Technology We’re Sadly Nowhere Near

Back To The Future II, as we noted, is surprisingly on the ball for a goofy movie about a time-traveling teenager. But not everything was a slam dunk, including these technologies.

Holographic Displays

We all remember Marty freaking out when faced with a fake shark, but it isn’t happening any time soon. The technology is around to some degree, but even those developing it think it’s a decade away, and not at the scale you see in the movie. Thankfully, Jaws 19 is also not a possibility.

Quality Dehydrated Food

Every kid dreamed of being able to throw a hockey puck under a hood and have a Pizza Hut pizza come out, but it’s not happening, for a few reasons. The first is that the primary customer in the dehydrated food market is actually the military, and there are thirty years of jokes about the MRE to tell you what they taste like. Secondly, other convenience foods are just easier to prepare and eat, so there’s little market demand for something that has a reputation for being disgusting. Thirdly, the increasing trends of food snobbery means that most people won’t eat MREs anyway.

But there is a consolation prize: Pizza Hut has successfully delivered to space. So maybe they’ll realize there’s a market for space pizza, especially since it’s not like anything else is working for the pizza industry.

Self-Drying Clothes

This one is really not for lack of trying. Realistically, the clothing industry is constantly trying to develop new and more convenient textiles, whether it’s Teflon-coated pants or blankets that can withstand the worst space can dish out. And in fact, there are fabrics that can suck up moisture and expose it to the air better, drying you off more quickly. But a jacket packed with air dryers is sadly still just a dream.

Precision Meteorology

Once again, this isn’t coming true, but it’s not because there’s no interest in it. In fact, there’s so much interest that this Congress actually passed a bill giving NOAA $360 million in extra funding to improve weather forecasts. Knowing the weather is key to public safety, military security, and a whole host of other issues.

Unfortunately, as a meteorologist will tell you, weather is unpredictable and getting worse, for various reasons. We’re far better at forecasting, especially since we’ve got satellites in orbit and piles of money to constantly improve technology. But weather forecasting will be inexact for a while yet.

Indoor Fruit “Gardens”

Our fine war on drugs has really advanced the indoor agricultural industry, not to mention making marijuana ridiculously potent. But, from those who work in that industry, we’ve also learned that growing actual, productive plants indoors is even harder than growing them outdoors. So an indoor retractable fruit garden, like the one owned by the McFlys, isn’t likely any time soon.

Robots Fueling Our Cars

This technology does in fact exist, although it probably won’t be cleared by regulatory authorities by 2015. The problem is that we hate robots with a passion usually reserved for other humans. We hate them so much not even self-checkout lanes can escape our wrath.

This isn’t even getting into all the other reasons robots won’t be pumping your gas, but the biggest problem is really pretty simple. What’s cheaper: Installing an expensive, delicate system that has to withstand awful weather? Or making you get out of your car and pump your own gas?

In short, technology has advanced in some surprising ways, but it’s defined much more by market forces than by something being cool. On the other hand, we live in a world where you can stick a computer connected to a vast archive of information in your pocket, so it’s a good trade-off.