In the 2002 movie Minority Report, part of the “way out there” 2054 technology was a computer system that Tom Cruise navigated his way through via arm and hand gestures. That technology – minus the holograms – has now officially arrived 44 years ahead of schedule, thanks to the design team at tech firm Evoluce. With support from Microsoft, the company has created prototype software which allows Microsoft’s Kinect gesture-based video gaming platform to control Windows 7 applications. PC-users will likely soon be able to “swim” through Google Earth images, write on-screen messages in the air, and surf the Internet without cramping their mousing hand.

The new software, which acts as a bridge between Kinect and Windows 7, is based on Evoluce’s Multitouch Input Management driver. The team altered the driver to include a multi-gesture control mode for applications running under Windows 7, including those using Flash and Java. Video and photos of the system have just been posted by the company, which says it could revolutionize many aspects of the computer-using experience. Possible applications for the technology include office, education, point of sale, medical and (naturally) gaming systems.

Objects (including the select tool) can be moved around the screen with one hand, or twisted back and forth with two – with two users, two objects can be independently manipulated at once. In the same way that the spreading of fingers can be used to zoom in on objects on touchscreens, the spreading of the arms allows users to move in on the new system’s display. In the example on the video, this allowed the user to essentially swim through downtown Manhattan.

Evoluce, a Germany-based company specializing in large-format multi-touch LCD displays and gesture control software, says it plans to release software soon and that software developers tapping into the bridge will soon be able to program multi-user, multi-gesture applications that will change the way people interact with the PC and consumer electronics in everyday life.

News of this software comes less than two weeks after a US$3,000 bounty was claimed, for the development of an unsanctioned open source driver that allows Kinect to be used with computer systems other than the Xbox 360.

Via Wolfgang Herfurtner’s Multitouch and Gesture Computing Blog