TechCrunch has a great post on a new company coming out that built the interface for the movie Minority Report where they’re actually making it real. They have actual video of it in progress and it looks spectacular; I would love to play with this.
The company is Oblong Industries, and their product is definitely well worth checking out.
However as I’ve posted before (in reference to Microsoft Surface) this type of computing isn’t as practical as it seems. MG Siegler falls into the mindset that many of us techies have with cool ultra tech like this. It really does seem to be the way of the future from our perspectives; the problem is that being neck deep in new tech everyday our perspectives aren’t exactly grounded in reality. To try to ground myself I always think, “If I walked my grandmother or my parents up to this device, would they have any idea how to use it or would they prefer something else?” Or in this case, would I myself really still want to keep using this after the initial novelty wears off.
I wanted to say here what I basically said there that while this is super cool for specific interactions it doesn’t translate to real world applications like email and surfing the web. When watching the video keep in mind that this is a promo video where things are carefully orchestrated to make it look as seamless as possible but much pre-production was likely done (like how the computer knows how to perfectly crop elements out of videos to be thrown into a haphazard mess on the screen in front of the user).
First off is how much it will cost, and how much room it takes up. It looks cool for massive government installations but do the same thing in front of a 11″ netbook and you’ll look like a moron.
Second is that it’s not as intuitive as it looks, this isn’t pinch to zoom, you’re going to need to learn alot of complex 3D gestures to use this. And for what? Complex interaction with photos?
Third, lack of accuracy. It’s nice for virtually grabbing an image and rotating it but notice the lack of clarity while drawing with fingers. People who use Photoshop will know how useless it is unless you have nearly pixel perfect control.
Finally, is simple human nature. People are lazy and if there is an easier way to do things people will prefer that. Almost everything done onscreen can be done with a keyboard and mouse with next to no physical effort. As fun as it would be to command fleets in a 3D world using my hands in the game series Homeworld, I can do it just as well slouched in my chair with a keyboard and mouse with less effort, significantly less room, and significantly less price.
I love the “Minority Report” ideal as much as any techie but it’s not practical for mainstream use. I’m sure the government will have fun with it as well as some major companies; plus it will become a staple on CSI and related crime dramas. But it’s not the future of home computing.
I love this kind of stuff because it’s always so overblown, like the Jetsons which aired in 1962 and takes place in 2062.
Anyway these 1969 images (of life in 1989) from Japan are even better because the majority of the predictions have actually come true (roombas, personal computers, laptops, computers in the classroom, telecommuting, remote surgery). There may not be 1960’s styling but this guy basically saw what life would be like us today (minus the flying car); technically he was 20 years off but still pretty good considering that “computers” in his day took up an entire room, and by “computers” I mean big calculators.
Be sure to check out all three images broken down on the site.