December 1, 2008 The second best thing about the film Minority Report has to be the glove-controlled, wall-sized computer display (first place goes to the jetpacks). Oblong Industries is working on a computer interface that operates in a similar way – and rather than a case of tech imitating art, the Minority Report computer was actually based off early Oblong designs. The company offers their system as a software platform suitable for licensing and embedding.
An incredible amount of the human brain is devoted to making spatial calculations about the body and the environment – but current computer interfaces leave this brainpower untapped. Oblong’s developers want to create a platform that takes advantage of our neural hard-wiring. Like the display in Minority Report, Oblong’s g-speak spatial operating environment uses gesture-based navigation. The platform can track finger and hand motion to 0.1mm at 100 hz, providing pixel-accurate pointing and allowing for a wide range of hand motions. It can support multiple users, and additional input devices like keyboards and mice. The platform is designed for collaborative use, with new display mediums and users added into the system when necessary.
While the g-speak platform seems futuristic, the ultimate vision of the creators extends far beyond what we saw in the film. They envision a world where lightbulbs incorporate high-resolution projectors, turning every surface into a computer interface. Designing computers that compliment our mental architecture is simply the first step – eventually Oblong hopes to see computers that compliment our housing and office architecture.
The platform, which runs on Linux and OS X, is currently in use at Fortune 50 companies, government agencies and universities.