From augmented reality video games to Apple’s Siri digital assistant, technology continues to zip along at lightening speed. Many of the most wild science fiction stories later become real life. Jules Verne came up with the idea of a fax machine, Arthur C. Clarke conceived the idea for satellites, and Edward Bellamy dreamed up the telephone before its time. Back in 2002, Phillip K. Dick’s short story was produced into the Hollywood movie Minority Report. In the film, a computer is featured that allows the user to interact with the screen in 3D, grabbing images and items virtually and moving them around the screen. Now that wild piece of sci-fi is quickly on its way to reality.
MIT student Jinha Lee designed a prototype as an intern in the Microsoft Applied Sciences Group which allows a user to physically interact with the objects on a transparent screen. Moving windows forward and backward with your fingers, cameras sense where the users hands are and allows for a true 3D interaction with the content on (or is that “in”) the screen. Linking the pixellated world and that of humans is something that has been dreamed up many times before — with movies like Tron taking the concept as far as it could — to a whole digital world beyond the physical. For Lee, the motivation for this project is to allow interaction with the abstract world inside the screen:
Computer scientist Ivan Sutherland once called a computer display “a looking glass into a mathematical wonderland.” and I have always aspired to walk in this wonderland to interact with those abstract beings.
Just think, it was only a few years ago that Facebook opened up from schools to the public and now it is part of daily life. Before you know it, our appliances will be talking to us, salesmen at the store will be holograms, and some geeks might just decide to replace their girlfriends with digital avatars. Watch out Siri, a slew of technology is nipping at your heels that might make you look like more of a toaster oven than artificial intelligence.