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9/27/2012
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Cool Factor: Future Of Computing Looks Like 'Minority Report'

Minority Report might soon be coming to a conference room near you. BYTE's Boonsri Dickinson pays a visit to John Underkoffler, builder of the movie's technology and chief scientist at Oblong in San Francisco, to see the future of computer interfaces.

What is the future of user interfaces? Does waving your hands in front of your computer, or sharing just-taken smartphone photos on a conference room screen sound cool? That's the future that Oblong Industries envisions with technology inspired by the movie Minority Report.

Oblong's chief scientist John Underkoffler is famous for building the technology seen in movie. Underkoffler and Oblong CEO Kwin Kramer showed me how they want to re-think how collaboration is done in the conference room and how they are designing the next generation of computing interfaces. Using special software and "spatial wands", the technology works with the touch screens already in our smartphones and tablets to take sharing and moving data to a new Minority Report level.

For instance, Oblong's product Mezzanine lets you take photos with your smartphone and share them on TV screens in the room. Or you can use the wand to grab a shot of the whiteboard, drag it onto a screen, and use your smartphone to annotate it. No matter what device you have, you can share media with everyone else in the conference room.

Check out my report on Oblong:

In the video, we used special gloves to control what was on the screen in front of us. The technology behind that uses Oblong's core technology, the g-speak spatial operating system.

The start-up Leap Motion takes a different approach to interacting with computers. It plans to sell software and hardware for $70 that will let you use gestures to control what happens on the screen--and perhaps make the mouse a thing of the past.

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