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Whatever happened to Minority Report's technology predictions

September 18, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by The Guardian

As Leap Motion lays off staff and Project Soli remains unknown, wider adoption of computers that use gestural control proves more difficult than predicted

Somewhere on Steven Spielberg's cutting-room floor are 20 minutes of footage shot for Minority Report, the sci-fi film from 2002 in which Tom Cruise memorably manoeuvred content around wall-sized computer screens by waving his hands. The 20 minutes were written by John Underkoffler, who also came up with the idea for the "gesture interface" used by Cruise, in his role as a chief of police catching criminals before they knew they intended to break the law.

The extra scenes - lost from the film - showed the back room: the people who processed all the data that was then routed upstairs to Cruise (playing police chief John Anderton) who would then waft them around the room.

But 13 years on, where are the wall-sized gestural interfaces? Or even laptop-screen-sized gestural interfaces? Why aren't we all filing documents and doing ... whatever we want, by waving our hands around? Underkoffler, now chief executive, chief scientist and founder of Oblong Industries, says there have been two problems: getting the technology right, and getting that integrated into the "full stack" of tasks that we want to do.

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