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Cross Media Week Amsterdam: The future as seen in movies

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This week Amsterdam is all about Cross Media, a mating ritual between all different forms of media: New and old, new and even newer. I (and the Masters of Media) visited the student lectures on Wednesday where five speakers presented their views on the topic. The speakers were:

  • John Underkoffler, Chief Scientist, Treadle & Loam and Co-Founder, G-Speak (United States)
  • Mary Hodder, CEO, Dabble (United States)
  • Gabriele Gresta, Executive Vice Chairman, Digital Magics Group (Italy)
  • Joaquín Alvarado and Sylvia Paull

Picnic06

If you want to read a whole report on the lectures, check out Anne Helmond’s post on the conference. Personally I was most intrigued by John Underkoffler and his views on the convergence of film and (new media) science. He coined a very simple, but very relevant question about the mouse. Everything in computer science has developed, but why are we still stuck with  just the mouse and keyboard? Because it confirmed some thoughts I had floating through my mind a while back, when I was thinking about the science used in movies.

Minority Report and Gestural Interfaces
G-speak is a gestural interface system which Underkoffler is working on, but the original idea was also used in the movie Minority Report where Underkoffler was science and technology advisor. In looking for ways to present a believable future, the idea was brought up to put a gestural interface system in the movie. This system was developed and the actors could also practice with a working G-speak system, so they could mimmick the hand gestures in the movie itself. So you could say it’s kind of a movie and science loop.

The examples that were shown on the Picnic were quite impressive and showed a working system quite similar to the scenes you see in Minority Report where Tom Cruise is working on a crime scene with the help from a very interesting gestural interface. You can watch a short example of that movie sequence below:

I couldn’t find the example of the G-Speak interface which Underkoffler showed, but there is similar research being done by other companies. They work a bit differently, but the gestural idea looks quite the same. This might look quite tiring, waving your hands up an down and all around, Underkoffler mentioned that they could easily test it for 8 hours straight. These are two examples of still developing and very interesting interfaces:

Jeff Han of New York University

EON Touchlight

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