Science Fiction Becomes Reality 02: Heads-Up Touch Display

Our next imagining from the world of science fiction comes from a movie based loosely on a short story by Phillip K. Dick with the same name: Minority Report. Set in Washington, D.C. in the year 2054, where “PreCrime” a police department apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called “precogs.”

Heads-Up Display: The Sci-Fi Version

Chief of PreCrime, John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise), uses heads up touch screens to search his database for crimes that might happen if he and his team of “precogs” don’t intervene.

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Since this movie was released in 2001, the GUI (graphical user interface) technology was mind-boggling. John Underkoffler is the brilliant mind behind that visual experience. He also created all the visual and computer interfaces seen in Marvel’s 2006 film Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr.

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How It’s Becoming Reality

In 2013, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Taiwan’s largest high-tech R&D organization, introduced one of the first see-through display and air-touch input technologies for computers, wearable computers, and mobile devices. This prototype doesn’t need voice activation or a physical keyboard or screen for input. The glasses project a virtual display in front of the user, the AirTouch canvas, floating keypad or panel. The technology hasn’t quite caught on yet for commercial use but it’s right around the corner.

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And guess what? Underkoffler has been working on bringing the Minority Report heads-up display to life since the film. He is now the co-founder and CEO of Oblong, which has made commercial versions of the technology a reality with Mezzanine. It’s a visual collaboration solution that links locations, teams, content, and devices in an immersive, shared workspace. Mezzanine is already in use today at companies like Boeing and IBM.

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Now, I’d love to hear from you. What science-fiction ideas have you recently read about or have you seen in movies that you predict we’ll be using very soon? Let me know in the comments!

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Dana Leipold

Continuity Director
Dana is a freelance writer, author, and member of the Association of Independent Authors. She has self-published three books practices yoga, loves funny cat videos, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.

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