"I'll just add you to my contacts..."; photo credit, Lyn Barry

We’ve all seen it; and we all want it! I’m of course talking about that badass software Tom Cruise uses in the movie-adaptation of Phillip K. Dicks’ Minority Report! You know the bit I mean: whilst searching for potential murderers, Cruise uses fragments of movie files, extracted from the future visions of the Police departments ‘Pre-cog’ division, and zooms, rewinds, and manipulates them on a giant iPhone-like mid-air touch surface…DO WANT!

Well, it would seem that M.I.T. media lab’s Pattie Maes is also jonesing for some of this tech:

From H+ Magazine:

Maes has a passion for empowering people by providing “fluid interfaces” that bring materials to digital life — books, clothes, sticky notes, portraits, walls, tables, and so on. The world she envisions magically responds to you with information where and when you need it, “enabling insight, inspiration, and interpersonal connections.”

Pattie Maes. Photo credit: MIT Media Lab

An associate professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences, she founded and directs the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces group. She holds bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. Her areas of expertise are human-computer interaction, intelligent interfaces, and ubiquitous computing.

In the late nineties, Maes founded Firefly. The company developed technology widely in use on the Internet today that assesses buying and browsing habits of users and then offers purchase recommendations. Microsoft bought Firefly for a rumored $40 million in 1998. Maes has been listed on Newsweek’s 100 most important people to watch, the World Economic Forum’s 100 people to listen to, People’s 50 most beautiful people, and the Association for Computing Machinery’s 15 most perspicacious visionaries.

In addition to Pattie, the Lab’s luminaries include Marvin Minsky (the “father of AI”), Deb Roy (Cognitive Machines), Edward Boyden (Synthetic Biology), and Cynthia Breazeal (Personal Robots), to name just a few.

Quite an academic powerhouse! If you want to read more about this ‘game-changing’ tech, our buddy Ken ‘R.U.Sirius’ Goffman’s excellent publication H+ Magazine hooked up with Maes for a great interview, that delves further into this futuristic, yet affordable technology; with instuctions on how to build your own device (it even inlcudes the software).

Ken Eakins

About the Author

Ken Eakins is a filmmaker and weird stuff enthusiast from the South of England.

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