REEL TO REAL ► Minority Report & Avatar Style 3D Data Interfaces Developed Using Microsoft’s Kinect

The Gadget Helpline‘s REEL TO REAL is a new regular feature to the blog, aimed at tech and film fanatics, which will reveal how the sci-fi and futuristic gadgets we see on screen in movies and television are making their way into real-life. Take a seat, grab your popcorn and enjoy the show!

Microsoft is currently tinkering with one of its most popular gadgets, the Kinect, to deliver the type of 3D interfaces as seen on screen in a number of blockbuster sci-fi movies. You may remember Tom Cruise quickly dabbling with data in Minority Report or a similar tech used in fantasy flick Avatar (and to a lesser extent, the web browser used by Keanu Reeves in Johnny Mnemonic) – This kind of technology is coming to a PC near you, soon.

At one time Microsoft’s Kinect was a fun toy to play with when pals came over to play Xbox 360. But over the past year we’ve seen developers and innovative minds utilising the gaming gadget in a variety of imaginative and helpful ways, from assisting in keeping surgery sanitary and scanning the surfaces of long hidden ice caves. Microsoft’s Applied Science Group is now researching ways to use the motion sensor controller as a replacement for the traditional desktop mouse.

There’s only so much more that can be done to the humble mouse, a device that’s been in mainstream service for Personal Computers since the early 80s. It’s seen many shapes and forms for a variety of purpose, but it may soon become extinct thanks to Microsoft and its Kinect. A concept video reveals plans for a transparent Samsung OLED “Smart Window” display, that was revealed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, which a user puts their hands behind and can then interact with a 2D keyboard on a track pad or 3D items on a virtual desktop as their movements are captured by the Kinect tech. Dragging and dropping files and folders and moving basic shapes is demonstrated, as well as the 3D perspective which is adjustable to suit the users point-of-view.

Microsoft’s engineers who feature in the video tell how their research will work towards providing a natural interaction with our everyday desktop computing, with sights set firmly on the future. We have to admit, its impressive stuff – and the stuff of sci-fi is just over the horizon.

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