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Futuristic software from Minority Report is real

Oblong Industries Minority Report.jpg

With Oblong Industries' innovative system, several people can simultaneously manipulate elements on interactive displays via the system's wands or on their own portable devices. (Oblong Industries)

In the 2002 Steven Spielberg sci-fi film The Minority Report, Tom Cruise uses a high-tech computer system controlled by special gloves to sift through data with his hands, tossing videos left and right and zooming into them in his quest to predict future crimes.

The Department of Precrime may be fantasy, but that software is very real.

Los Angeles tech firm Oblong Industries built just such a system, which uses wands or arm and hand gestures to sift through large volumes of data. Kwin Kramer, Oblong’s chief executive, told AFP they have the system up and working -- and for sale.

“We have demo versions of this kind of software which show exactly the Minority Report user experience, allowing you to move back and forth in time, or to zoom in to look at details,” Kramer said.

'We have demo versions of this software which show exactly the Minority Report experience.'

- Kwin Kramer, Oblong’s chief executive

“You can have a lot of data but it's hard to make use of that,” Kramer told AFP. “It can be on different machines and hard to access. This allows multiple people to look at that.''

The software essentially creates a multi-screen tabletop, on which can be scattered videos, documents, notes and so on. Special wands or hand gestures allow the user to sift through the files, drawing connections between related items and zooming into others.

The company describes it as a collaboration, whiteboarding, and presentation system that creates a shared workspace.

Others describe the software as “absolutely revolutionary.”

“Every once in a while something crops up that is truly game-changing. And it restores my faith in technology. That’s the best way to describe what I saw when I met with Oblong Industries,” wrote MG Siegler in late June, when the TechCrunch reporter got an early glimpse of Oblong’s innovations.

The company has contracts with Boeing, GE, and others, according to AFP, and it has raised an unspecified amount of money from several venture capital firms.

“I think most people look at those Minority Report interfaces and imagine how they could use that flexible system in their own office or designs studio,” Kramer said. The system is meant for businesses, however. Kramer envisions selling it to the military or police or other law enforcement agencies.

“It isn't science fiction, it's real.”