Tangible's 'Spatially Aware Display' Is A Window Into The World Of Minority Report


It seems however financially or culturally successful Steven Spielberg’s 2002 neo-noir science-fiction film Minority Report proved to be, the concept designers and artists behind it will feel no greater reward in that their own vision of the future is ever so slightly influencing our own path in technology. From insect robots capable of recon missions, to facial recognition advertising billboards and, yes, crime prediction software

Now, researchers from MIT’s media lab are well on their way to replicating the multi-touch interfaces triumphed by Tom Cruise’s detective, a vision in which data can be manipulated and the UI interacted with through nothing more than pinches, grabs, and swipes without touching a thing but pure thin air. Using an Apple iPad as a ‘window’ into the virtual world – a more small-scale display than that employed by Cruise in the aforementioned – and a special glove attachment much like that fashioned in the movie, users can easily and intuitively interact with data and work in virtual space simply through merely moving their hands in the space in front of them.

Developed by Tangible Media Group, it’s called T(ether) and is described by the team behind it as a “spatially aware display” that uses Vicon motion capture cameras to track the position and orientation of the iPad, in addition to keeping track of the users' head position and, with the assistance of the motion-tracked glove, hands, in order to interact with objects in the virtual world. “T(ether) creates a 1:1 mapping between real and virtual coordinate space allowing immersive exploration of the joint domain,” explains the group's project page. “Our system creates a shared workspace in which co-located or remote users can collaborate in both the real and virtual worlds.”

The demonstration of the system is more than impressive, showing how the user can draw objects in real time and manipulate them in 3D space, even collaborating with other users using the synchronization server. Spielberg, do they have your attention yet?

Richard Birkett