'Minority Report' User Interface Gets Recreated with Augmented Reality

Friday, 01 September 2017 - 5:02PM
Virtual Reality
Science of Sci-Fi
Friday, 01 September 2017 - 5:02PM
'Minority Report' User Interface Gets Recreated with Augmented Reality
20th Century Fox

Currently, virtual reality is seen as the future of immersive technology, being used by everyone from major tech giants to NASA astronauts. Meanwhile, most people know of augmented reality as the thing that Pokémon GO uses. In terms of public perception, there's a disconnect between the two.

Don Shin, founder of the software development firm Crosscom, thinks AR is being criminally underused compared to its bigger VR counterpart. So to show off AR's potential as both a household tool and something that looks awesome, Shin put together a rig that recreates the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise investigates a crime using a ton of holographic computer screens, controlled by simple hand motions.



Now, while we'd never normally ask if you'd like to "be like Tom Cruise," we're making an exception because Minority Report is a great movie (the jury's out on the show) and that holographic technology looks fun to mess around with. Using a custom AR headset he developed and displayed at the Escape Velocity convention in Washington DC, Shin showed off how augmented reality can create that display right in front of you, and how you can interact with all those windows using similar hand motions.

via GIPHY



The major piece of necessary hardware is the headset, which can mostly be made with easy-to-find hardware (not necessarily cheap hardware, mind you, but it's easy to find).




Shin explained that the headset isn't wireless, tethered to the computer beside him, but it does allow the headset all the processing power of the Core i7 he's running it with. The graphics use a GTX 1080 card, but Shin believes a GTX 970 graphics card would also suffice. Beyond that, it's a Meta 2 headset with a 3D printed mount for the stereoscopic cameras, which recognize hand gestures and allow the programs to respond to real-world movements.

The result is a series of virtual windows overlaid over your normal field of vision in AR - no holograms yet, so other can't see it unless you record or stream it - which can be controlled and moved using motion capture that tracks your hand movements. In Minority Report, that background was a noir, hi-tech police laboratory. In most cases, it's a convention room like in the hotel which hosts Escape Velocity, but you can get an idea of what that looks like below:



A major design philosophy during the project's development, besides looking cool, was to be intuitive in terms of which hand motions did what. Playing a video should be as simple as reaching out and tapping it, while rewinding and fast-forwarding requires you to grab the video and rotate your hand left or right. You know, the sort of motions you wouldn't tend to do by accident, to avoid creating false positives. 

Meanwhile, a menu could be brought up simply by holding up your two index fingers, and the menu would appear just between them. And simply reaching out tapping the program would run it. Expanding the window was as simple as turning your hand over.

When properly used, AR could become a staple in industry or for just education or household uses, such as displaying recipes over your field of vision while you cook, or keeping important information in your line of sight without having to stare down at a computer. Shin suspects that once major corporations like Apple, Microsoft, and Google release more products to the general public - ideally more like the Microsoft Hololens and less like the Google Glass - AR will see a spike in popularity.



Until then, we'll get some interesting demos and DIY tech projects. And if you try to put together your own, make sure this is the only part of Minority Report you replicate. Don't go calling yourself a "precog" and predicting who will commit crimes and such.

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