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Displays Sci-Fi Toys

Obscura Digital Demos "Minority Report"-Like Display 124

Barence and other readers sent along word of a demonstration by Obscura Digital of a new technology it's dubbed a multi-touch hologram — reminiscent of the display in Minority Report. The demonstration shows a man interacting with holographic images projected before him, moving them around and resizing them. It's only sort of like the Minority Report display, which used hand movements to control elements on a screen. Earlier, Obscura had demoed another take on the Spielbergian technology, a multi-touch wall.
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Obscura Digital Demos "Minority Report"-Like Display

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  • now please. That's one of the best displays that I've ever seen in any sci-fi movie. Even if it was just special effects, it had me drooling. That and the electric citroen DS from gattaca.

    • Re:ok, I want one (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Carthag ( 643047 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:06PM (#24483391) Homepage

      And then you'll get sick of having arms that feel like wood. Mouse-elbow would be nothing compared to this thing.

      • good point! I've recently started riding a recumbent bicycle and that's a pretty good description of what's happening to my feet. It took me a while to make the link, apparently suspending your limbs for longer periods in a horizontal position is *not* a good idea.

      • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )

        Indeed. While i thought the effect was pretty in the movie, i knew from elementary school that waving my arms in circles is tiresome. There's also the virtual file cabinet from the movie Disclosure. Where Michael Douglas pulls open virtual drawers and rifles through the virtual folders. Neat to watch in a movie... terrible idea. Such a system would be no more efficient than the real thing. Technology should make things easier, not duplicate things we already (dislike) do. Computers should make file c

      • And then you'll get sick of having arms that feel like wood. Mouse-elbow would be nothing compared to this thing.

        Exercise never hurt anyone.

        In fact... I think most of Slashdot could use a bit more.

        • > Exercise never hurt anyone.

          Except that guy who died while jogging.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by glittalogik ( 837604 )

            Jim Fixx []

            Dennis Leary:

            Jogged fifteen miles a day. Did a jogging book. Did a jogging video. Dropped out of a heart attack when? When he was fucking jogging, that's when! What do you wanna bet it was two smokers who found the body the next morning and went, "Hey! That's Jim Fixx, isn't it? Wow, what a fucking tragedy."

      • Hmm... so having extremities standing out horizontally makes them feel like wood...

        I have something that feels like wood right now!
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Not to mention the fact that you look like a complete plank operating one too...

        Oh, and the obligatory: think of the pron!

      • by Ruke ( 857276 )
        I think the idea behind this is that it's a cool technology for presentations, not a replacement for your monitor and keyboard/mouse. You certainly COULD replace your current setup with a high-end projector and one of those motion-capture laser-pointer mice, but you wouldn't, because it's damned expensive, and not nearly as efficient as what you're using right now.
    • Oh my!! I can think of alot of stuff I whant to do wit that, and I'll start with my lightsaber dueal simulator :p
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:57PM (#24483267)

    Somehow, doesn't seem as efficient as alt-tabbing.

  • Someday, when holograms are commonplace, I will drive down the street, and instead of seeing my car, you will see a giant snake breathing fire on everything around me.

    I applaud every bit of research and technology advancements that bring me closer to that future.

  • Innovative (Score:5, Funny)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:01PM (#24483323)

    Yeah, but can we lay it down on say, a table? []

    • Re:Innovative (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:50PM (#24484097)

      You're starting to show your age... or just being an ass, the Surface is a good idea with our current technology, and will remain for quite a few years yet even if holographic stuff became popular/accessible because it doesnt interfere (think about schools and offices).

      But, this is entirely different from the Surface, and I don't really mean just tech-wise, think about "there is no spoon", its almost a spiritual tool, the (possible) freedom is almost limitless in what you can do, almost as good as having your brain directly linked into the computer.

      Having said that and probably some already stopped reading, depending on how (or when) portable it is, this could be a major problem, especially in the beginning with people walking around terrorizing young and/or old people, or causing traffic accidents etc "I swear Officer, there was a car there!".

      There could also be problems with subliminal things, although it could be argued that its possible (and in some cases does happen) with current technology, it would be much easier and far less noticeable to embed slight alterations, and hidden messages into the the hologram/projection, I'm thinking about this in the context of later on when there might be people who have it on permanently (think of Strange Days []).

      However, as much as I am fond of Trains, Gas Guzlers, CRT's and Physical arts, I for one welcome our new holographic overlords.

  • by al0ha ( 1262684 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:02PM (#24483337) Journal
    as a form of Geek exercise. Lift that window, scroll that window, spin it, spin it, expand then contract...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:04PM (#24483357)

    The researchers did state that their tech would need to be scaled up before it could work with straight actors.

  • How can pr0n be enhanced from this technology?
  • The Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:06PM (#24483389)

    The problem with this is that your arm gets tired! The Nintendo Powerglove [] from the 80's had this problem. A more natural interface would occasionally let you use your hands for rapid-fire intensive input or precision adjustments, but would follow your eyes and verbal instructions.

    • I thought that before I bought the Wii. I purchased Resident Evil 4 and was surprised how it didn't. I would stand up in front of my wall mounted tv and use both controllers for hours on end and not get tired. It is possible that it just requires conditioning.
      • Powerglove != Wii (Score:5, Insightful)

        by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:29PM (#24483773)

        Using the Powerglove is not like using a Wii. Try making a fist and waving it back and forth and up and down in front of you with the back of your hand level. Try this for hours. Eventually, you wind up trying to rest your elbow on something. With the Wii, you usually make specific gestures, after which you are free to go back to a more restful position. It's more like holding a sword/racquet/frying pan. The Powerglove is more like using a giant-sized air-joystick. There is no chance for resting. The Wii is much more "natural."

        If the interface in the article allows you to make momentary gestures, then it won't be tiring. If your hands are way out in front of you for hours, it will be a drag.

    • I welcome our new simian overlords? Not simbian, you pervs. I can see the evolution picture now....apes to man to apes again (or at least the hunched big arm posture because of the screens, assuming proliferation in the future).

      (I like parenthesis) or "quotes".


  • Meh.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Splab ( 574204 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:09PM (#24483445)

    Well first of all, it's shot from one angle, saw another movie like this where some random blogger (also the case here it seems) thinks its "holographic" when it is in fact a projector shooting on clear plastic.

    Also it looks to me that he interacts with the system through sensors in each hand, clicking them when he wants to "grab" something - and they are poorly calibrated, quite a lot of the time the system clearly isn't responding the way he wants it to.

    • Ya, thought about the same. When I read 'holographic' my BS detector started making noise. Watching the video, the needle just moved further towards the 'is BS' side. Maybe its the way the technology works and/or gets recorded, but the perspective just seems wrong.

      And the hand positions just seem unnatural. He has his hands curled around something the entire time. Granted, some sort of pointing device isn't bad, and real buttons can be nice in that the system really knows when you pushed it and doesn
    • by Syberz ( 1170343 )
      Meh indeed...

      I can do all of that now with a projector, a clear screen and a Wii.

      Just have one sensor in each hand (wiimote+nunchuk) and project on a transparent screen in front of you. How is this "new" technology exactly?

      • by Splab ( 574204 )

        Well not exactly, you are bound to end up with a better result than the guy in the movie.

      • They put it together.

        The automobile is just wheels, an engine driven by expanding gases, and some seats bolted to a chassis.

        I think you'd hardly argue that the concept of an automobile wasn't new when they first sold one.

        • Note that it took somebody around 1800 years to put the three together without requiring some sort of guide system.
    • [...] and they are poorly calibrated, quite a lot of the time the system clearly isn't responding the way he wants it to.

      Not to sound too cynical, but the same not-quite-responding-right issues could also happen if the "holographic" images were completely prerecorded and the person merely an actor miming the corresponding hand actions (and occasionally being a little bit off in his timing).

  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:11PM (#24483481) Homepage

    Hasn't anyone figured out a more interesting application of this "multi-touch" input form?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      Boring. Hasn't anyone figured out a more interesting application of this "multi-touch" input form?

      Multi-touch.. interesting... mmmh.. is it okay if it involves the Olsen twins? :-S

    • If moving, rotating, and resizing photos is your primary responsibility this technology may be useful. It is still just an extension of "touch" interfaces. I love new technology but I'd take a numerical keypad any day over a touch screen to enter my PIN at an ATM; old, reliable tech is more dependable in real-world applications than new, interesting tech.

  • So how exactly does this work? I'd hate to find out that it is just a hyped camera trick that looks awful from any other angle.

  • Fake? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals.nnamredyps'> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:18PM (#24483585) Homepage Journal

    From the blog comments []:

    This guy is not controlling anything with his hands. It's a pre-recorded sequence and he is "hand-syncing". Look closely.

    Still, I'd like to know what technology they used to create the holograms... *IF* indeed they're real.

    • Musion is not a true hologram. The images are actually 2-dimensional, but an optical illusion makes the 2d image appear to be located in front of the display. It's basically fake. There are technologies in the works to create a true hologram, that has actual depth and appears different from different viewing angles, but this is incredibly performance intensive and expensive.
  • Get Off My Lawn! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RManning ( 544016 )
    I'll keep my CLI, thank you very much!
    • by Bearpaw ( 13080 )
      You use a Command Line Interface? Hmph. I'll stick with my punch cards.

      I mean, sure, it makes posting to Slashdot kinda tricky, but [dogt-82-4yh2ht08y]0h]ef[p {A;

  • Imagine the ungodly interactive porn!

  • ok.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peachstealingmonkeys ( 1268936 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:30PM (#24483797)
    why is it that every single demo of these multi-touch technologies involve moving/rotating/resizing f-ing pictures or photographs? What am I, a private eye looking for f-ing clues? For christ's sake, show me some some practical applications, gawdammit..
    • For christ's sake, learn to f-ing swear, gawdammit.

    • More than that, have you noticed that the primary organizational concept used for all of these "advanced" systems is the pile?

      If all I wanted to do was move things from one pile to another I'd ditch the computer and go back to the piles of paper on my desk.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is primarily because f-ing moving/resizing/rotating actions are f-ing fundamentals of the f-ing way f-ing interfaces are currently f-ing designed. Now, for f's sake, you f-ing can't expect them to have f-ing developed f-ing applications for what is currently a f-ing theoretical method of f-ing input. This is f-ing new, after all, and no f-ing designers or f-ing coders have had a f-ing chance to work their normal f-ing magic with it yet.

      However, with f-ing simple examples like these, the f-ing non-res

  • If they're using the setup I think they are the guy giving the presentation can't see the holograms from his angle. He's most likely looking at a tv pointed at him, Making this cool but mostly useless.
    • Indeed. I've seen holograms in tech museums, but they're only viewable from one angle. And worse, they're always BEHIND the glass with the imprinted interference patterns.

      I've yet to see a hologram that can be displayed in any point in space (and could be viewed from nearly all angles) with just one or two projectors. THAT would merit a Nobel Prize.

    • He can see them. They are being projected on to a semi-clear sheet of plastic. If you've ever done this with a projector, or projected on to a sheet, you know you can see it from both sides.
  • Johnny (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Amorymeltzer ( 1213818 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:38PM (#24483883)

    All this is a lot like what Johnny [] did with the Wii-mote. He effectively turned the Wii (aka OLD technology by this point) into a tracker so he could manipulate items. He even used a screen to make images appear 3-D. In fact, his system is a lot more like Minority Report because, iirc, Cruise was touching a kind of screen, moving pictures and images across it, not hanging in mid-air.

  • Minority Report (Score:2, Redundant)

    by jgrahn ( 181062 )

    This had me confused for a while, since I haven't seen the Tom Cruise movie. I can recall no such thing from the 1949 short story by Theodore Sturgeon [], or from the 1959 PKD short story [].

  • Realistically speaking: in what areas of use, is it handy to wave your arms around to view translucent photographs, or interact with other kinds of translucent 2D images in front of you that way? Other than a novelty, can it break through? The mouse was a great invention, even though it looks very boring to have a pointer on a screen, it was something extremely useful. But standing and moving your arms around surely isn't something you can keep doing for a long time? Still cool to see though! Maybe for ori
  • I saw a commercial with a girl using a holographic display and I realised that there is no privacy in it, unless she uses Public Key encryptions built in to her special glasses so only she can see the display unencrypted.

    • Remember the fad of consumer-level push-to-talk features on cell phones? That feature where you could have a conversation effectively as if you were on speakerphone, anywhere you wanted to go? And the people who were (or still are) eagerly willing to do just that, blaring both sides of their conversations to anyone else within earshot?

      I have this sad feeling gimmickiness will win out over privacy in the hearts and minds of people with far more money to burn than you or I.

  • This technology isn't new...

    The film and video game industry have been using it forever, notice he is wearing black (in the video) and has a spotlight on him (whitening his skin). It's using the same motion capture software.

    Looking at their site also shows the specialize in projection technology. Meaning there is likely a fine mesh in front of him for the projection to land upon. That doesn't seem very advanced to me.

    Everyone sees gesture applications and thinks... oh thats innovative...

  • Of course, we saw this 5 years before "Minority Report", in the alien ship pilot interface on "Earth: Final Conflict".

    Although that show had its problems, especially after the 1st year, they got a lot of tech right. Mobile phone video with flexible e-paper type displays, etc.

  • Will the public ever tire of this kind of crap? I'm willing to sit with the next guy and admire some cool-looking input/manipulation device just like I'm willing to flick though the National Enquirer for laffs, but there IS a limit.

    Do they think this is impressive? Do they think it has an actual use? I suppose they do, but right here, right now: this. is. shit.

  • I've been playing around with a few ideas for a free floating display for some time, though I imagine the actual physics involved in making it work would be tricky.

    My first idea was to set up a series of intersecting lasers of identical wavelengths to act as a sort of "polarizing" filter on which a third beam could be reflected off the areas in the grid where the third beam was unable to pass through. The "grid" would also be warped slightly on both the horizontal and vertical axis to allow the beams to z-s

  • I've been looking for something like this - I have this collection of weird, blurry nonsensical poloraids that I've been wanting to slightly change the size of, rotate, and punch around.

    for the rest of you though, this technology seems to have far greater promise for gaming purposes. not sure why they didn't tailor their demo to that sort of application.

  • I need to wear black.

    Hold 'fists' all the time (unless to zoom, which will be seldom)

    and work in a dark room.

    All to prove that I can use all my body parts to do what? Move a freaking 2D window across the screen. Inefficiency at its best I guess?

    Where do I sign up? (too cool!)

  • This is not really a hologram, but a slight variation of the Pepper's Ghost illusion developed in the 1860s. About the only new thing is that the projection is reflected off a plastic foil instead of a glass or perspex panel. It is a nice illusion, but not a 3D hologram.

    This is an interesting theatrical trick, but isn't real because the guy can't actually see the images in front of him that he is supposedly manipulating. If you look carefully, the guy is looking down the whole time, at the projection scre

  • s/mouse/hamster (Score:4, Interesting)

    by epine ( 68316 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2008 @12:46AM (#24492041)

    Minority Report sucked. The sensitivity on that wall-sized display was set to the level where it required a Shatneresque facial tick to get anything to happen at all. Cruise was doing Swan Lake just to accomplish a simple fade. Just what we all need: a 10,000 pixel wide display with a 20dpi gesture camera.

  • The IET are running an event on Programmable Hardware Systems that looks interesting. Anyone going? Their website is []
  • Please, sit down, calm down, and see how useless is this.

    - no contact feedback (seems few things, but makes typing nearly impossible.)

    - PAIN, PAAAAAIIN ! (torture, suffering, tears, suicide...)

    what about longtime use ? what about using this for..let's say... 3-4 hours a day (even 1 hour !) there is no way your arms, your legs, your back can handle it. Even if you sit down the weight of your arms will hurt your back...
    (no utility for any geek, any nerd, any professional any "IM-kid"... and 80% of games ma

    • Instead of shit canning this, how could we fix it.

      OK. It's not a hologram. It's not really multi touch, but as an interface it has potential.

      A mouse is good. Why? It's usable with minimal effort. Fix the sensitivity so you don't need
      to gesticulate wildly like a bonobo to effect something. A flick of the wrist or finger instead of waving the
      whole arm.

      Another good things about this interface is potential portability. Yes, the screen needs to be transported, but
      you don't need to carry around a mouse or keyboar

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake