Minority Report Computing - A Stones throw away?
Well were do we begin, you probably are reading this article thinking I am either totally mad or have completely lost the plot, but I have not and I intend to show you why.
I was inspired when I saw Tom Cruise in the film Minority Report, using his hands in thin air to control on screen information and move and pull objects. It is been quite a while since that film and slowly the technology to make this happen is not far off, by this I mean we could end up seeing this in action by the end of 2008,
Take a look at this clip from the film if you need reminding of what I am talking about.
There are advances in computing everyday so why can we not behave like Tom using our hands to move objects on screen and such. Well you soon will be able to do this, just imagine the presentation possibilities just to start, Now this is probably the part were most of you would think I am short a few chips in the brain, well I am not. So let me introduce you to the technology that if put together right would make the idea a reality. First up, let me introduce Microsoft Thinsight
Microsoft Thinsight is something that promises to deliver the minority report experience and more, based on a multi touch technology that enables a screen to recognise more than one touch area. First let us tell you a bit about Thinsight
Thinsight is something currently undergoing research in Cambridge, what makes Thinsight special is the fact it enables you to completely control the environment you are working with.
Researcher Shahram Izadi is behind this, and I hope the project finishes up as fine as it is looking at the moment. Here is info from his homepage.
This project explores a new technique for optical sensing through thin form-factor displays. It allows for detection of fingers and other physical objects close to or on the display surface. This essentially allows us to turn a regular LCD into a sensing surface that can be used for multi-touch and tangible computing applications. We are interested in both the underlying hardware and software aspects of this approach as well as the interaction techniques and application scenarios it enables.
Applications and interaction techniques for surfaces
We’ve been exploring novel application scenarios and interaction techniques for surfaces including ThinSight and the new Surface computer. Application-wise these include VideoPlay, a tangible way of editing videos on a tabletop, and FamilyArchive, a system which allows the input and safe archiving of both digital and physical media, and allows natural interaction with those media. In terms of interaction techniques we are looking at new ways of detecting and interacting with the Surface using mobile devices, adding physics to UIs, and revisiting the classic problem of scale, rotate and translate.
Right that’s the manipulation of the images and a multi touch interface it is almost like minority report, just on a smaller scale and you actually have to touch the screen for things to happen. The only thing about this is you need a hell of a lot of screen to do this, so we are not quite there yet. So what do we need to introduce, well Thinsight is great but paired with a LightGlove (more on this later) could work better if this was some how possible. Take a look at Shahrams page
The second option is one of the fantastic screens being built and developed over at Visual Planet, Want a screen as big as the one in minority report no problem.. Let me introduce Visual planets screens.
ViP Interactive Poster - Through window
ViP Interactive Poster - Information point
Yes the screen is really a sheet of acrylic or a sheet of glass, This is down to the touchscreen foil they have developed, From this clear touch foil... here it is in action
To this 100-inch touch screen experience
Through wood laminate, touch table using four 67-inch ViP Interactive foils...
To these through-window touch experiences with the ViP Interactive foil attached directly to the window...
40-inch LCD touch solution
Through-window rear projection touch solution
Touch foil integrated into LCD unit, Touch made easy
Projected Capacitance technology using horizontal vertical wires
40”- 80” 4:3 40”-100”16:9 as standard, other sizes available on request
Removable and permanent options available
Approximately 3 mm absolute, 1 mm relative. No drift
Software drivers provide a calibration facility
Can be programmed for different thickness of glass and even use with gloved hands. Standard configuration functions with non-metallised. single construction glass 16mm thick. Double glazing option up to 25mm available*.
Speed of response:
Depends upon glass thickness. Typically 50 to 100ms
RS232C communications to a 9 pin D female
Drivers are available for Windows Operating Systems
Better than -10 to +70°C
0% to 95%. Unaffected by condensation
Typically better than 93%.
EN55022:1998 + A1 + A2 EN55024:1998 + A1 + A2 This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC Rules Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1) this device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.
* Double glazing option In this mode we recommend only touch not the touch and drag function. The drag functionality is limited due to the reduction of the scan rate to achieve the touch function through thicker materials
Due to the variation in double construction glass Visual Planet recommend testing with a foil during the survey of each individual is impossible to guarantee the foil will function in all cases.
Here take a look at this example video here to see it in action
As you can see from the info above any size is really possible, to find out more about visual planets screens visit http://www.visualplanet.biz/
With all this technology and multi touch interfaces the minority report computer experience is almost complete, the only problem really is we need to be able to do all this without touching the screen, multi touch, with a Visual planet screen… something is missing… Step forth the Light glove the last addition to the reality. Which if applied right could take out the need to touch.
I have been following the light glove for a while now and have seen it go through 3 phases to get to the product that will be available this year and I am certainly looking forward to hopefully getting my hands on one in the future… the light glove is certainly something I could see put to very good use, be it medical, design, and even gaming. What is the light glove well here is a video to show you.
Quote from light glove site
“ Imagine sitting on your sofa and turning on the TV without a remote. Next you open the onscreen menu to select either checking email, watching the news or playing a DVD.
Using a small wireless device worn on the underside of your wrist, you merely extend your finger into a beam of light to push a "light button" to control your electronics.”
Well I can imagine it now to be honest, take a look here http://www.lightglove.com/ as you can see this is expected to be ready for purchase in Q1 of this year so we could all be using a computer differently to the way we do now in a few years. But for now we are so close I am dreaming minority report… geeky or what !!!!
Now I believe computing is really about to turn a new corner in the not to distance future with the interfaces and such we have seen in this article here, the future of computing is only a few stepping stones away….. keep watching in anticipation for the technology to become a reality.