‘Minority Report’ gets real with gesture tech platform


Story by Stephanie Kanowitz

When Tom Cruise waves his hands in the 2002 film “Minority Report” and manipulates data on multiple screens, it’s the stuff of science fiction. Today, though, movie stars aren’t the only ones using gestural technology — government agencies are, too.

John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries, created the futuristic technology for the blockbuster film, and for years, it was available only as a custom solution. In 2012, however, Oblong released Mezzanine, a commercial version that about a dozen agencies have picked up so far.

“Steven Spielberg came calling and said basically, ‘Can you tell me what computer interfaces are going to look like in 50 years?’” said Michael Friedel, Oblong’s federal director. “They came up with the glove-based gestural system – being able to orchestrate massive amounts of data visually without ever touching a screen or a keyboard or a mouse.”

Basically, users wear a glove – or use a wand – to manipulate information on multiple screens using gestures. Available in several options, the out-of-the-box Mezzanine solution comes with two wands and the main appliance. To use it, customers need bandwidth of 15 megabits up and down, high-definition screens and videoconferencing equipment. Mezzanine supports any standards-based camera and codec system.

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