The movie Minority Report (starring Tom Cruise) presented new methods of interactions with information. Looked very sci-fi back then, but not any more. Oblong Industries is working towards making the concept a reality.
John Underkoffler (co-founder of the company and lead of the team that created the Minority Report interfaces) recently demonstrated the interface at a TED conference.
The product is called the g-speak spatial operating environment.
As the name suggest its an Operating System that handles interactions in space. It is a combination of gestural i/o, recombinant networking, and real-world pixels. I have tried to put some brief explanation about these 3 concepts below the video.
Here is video of Mr Underkoffler demonstrating his work:
Gestural I/O (input/output) : Gestural interfaces aim to bridge the human-machine gap by adding the ability (into machines) to recognize human gestures like movement of hands and facial emotions. The main aspects in the study of Gestural I/O are :
1) devices that can take appropriate gestural input (like 3d-cameras, touch screen)
2) creating fast algorithms to interpret these inputs
3) building language frameworks around these algorithms
The term recombinant networking comes from the Speakeasy project at PARC that tried to bring new approaches to interoperability.
Quoting from the abstract of one of their papers:
Users in ubiquitous computing environments need to be able to make serendipitous use of resources that they did not anticipate and of which they have no prior knowledge.
The Speakeasy recombinant computing framework is designed to support such ad hoc use of resources on a network.
I found a patent related to Replicating and recombinant networking systems and methods for wireless networks:
It says these are systems and methods allow for more efficient wireless networking.
Example of such systems include
1) Plural subscriber units form a direct network and transmit and receive without base station mediation.
2) Base stations are networked so that one base station can take advantage of the second, networked, base station.
3) High-capacity lines are connected to one base station which is then networked to a second base station. Through the network, the second base station can utilize the high-capacity lines without being directly connected to them.
4) The subscriber units can migrate between all base stations in the network.
5) Using networked base stations and unassigned time sequences or codes, calls can be dynamically reassigned between base stations to meet shifting demand.
Real world pixels:
Simply put, it is about taking the display out of the 2 dimensional screens that we are so used to. Quoting from a 1999 paper by John Underkoffler, Brygg Ullmer, Hiroshi Ishi :
Pervasive environmental output and input is one natural heir to today’s rather more limited notion of spatially-confined, output only display (the CRT) and making the output pervasive in the environment.
Luminous Rooms (http://tangible.media.mit.edu/projects/luminousroom/) is one of projects at the MIT media labs tangible media group that illustrates this concept. Mr. Underkoffler was part of this project at Media labs before he joined the minority Report team.