This article was published on May 12, 2011

Entering The Minority Report Era: A Video Series

Entering The Minority Report Era: A Video Series
Niall Harbison
Story by

Niall Harbison

Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the world and engage with their customers using the free tools available to them.

Stephen Spielberg’s Minority Report captured the imagination of many in the technology space. The film made some bold predictions about technology and even though it was released nearly 10 years ago in 20002, we are seeing some things from the movie start to come true right in front of our eyes today. Technology has always moved quickly but we are entering an age where computing power and our own intelligence is at an all time high and that is accelerating the pace of change.

The last 18 months have seen some of the biggest shifts in how we use technology and data ever and if anything the speed of change is set to ramp up based on what we are seeing come out of concept testing. In one sense, it’s alarming but the flip side is that we are now “living in the future” and I think we’ve finally started to arrive in the Minority Report era…

Social Advertising

We all remember watching Tom Cruise walk into shops and have ads served up based on previous visits and what the computers knew about him but we never really in truth thought we would see that in our life time but the technology is already here. Although it’s early days in this field immersive ads are already here and are getting better by the day…[See our recent story on Immersive: The Future of Display Advertising]

Immersive Labs – Wiji Software Demo from Immersive Labs on Vimeo.

Virtual Shopping

One of the biggest overheads and variables in any business is employing people on the ground. But why bother having people around when you can do it all virtually? This video shows a 3D projection of a person who in a couple of years could be standing virtually in a shop telling you what to buy based on the information it already has on you.

If setting up a shop with real bricks and mortar doesn’t take your fancy and you want to sell products online in a more interactive way then this shop from phone company 3 in Sweden might show the future. Interacting with sales people over the web is already here in a very visual way and this augmented reality version of shopping might just give a glimpse of the future. [See our full story on 3LiveShop here]


One of the main themes in the film was the ability to predict crimes before they happened and although there are no videos of the technology yet it looks like IBM already has something in action in the real world in conjunction with the Mephis police force. You can read more about it here; apparently it is helping reduce crime by up to 30% by using predictive technology. The thing is there is probably lots more of this happening already but we don’t know about it as it’s not something the police want us all to know about in advance.

There have been some huge improvements in the way that the police are starting to fight crime and many of them involve technology. As you can see from the video below drones are not only used by the military but also starting to be used by local police forces.


Robots are a technology that have been around for some time but it looks as if we are about to enter a whole new age where they become practical and useful in the real world. Until recently most of these robots have been concept ideas but we are starting to see real world examples of them in use from everything to the military to cleaning your home and that will accelerate over the coming couple of years.

There are any amount of robots out there that I could have picked for this video but this one shows just how complex the robots are that we are now capable of building. They have mostly been confined to the laboratories in recent years but these are starting to pop up in the real world with very practical uses. If we can now recreate the flight of a bird using mechanical parts you can be sure that there are many more advances uses that we are about to see.

[See our full story on Festo, the robotic seagull here]

Gesture Based Computing

You’ll remember from the film that Tom Cruise spent most of his time gesturing at computers using his hands and at the time we all thought it was complete fantasy but we are starting to see this sort of technology come in to the mainstream. The most obvious of these new technologies is the iPad and not many of us would have expected this to have reached the critical mass as quickly as it has…

Not only is gesture based technology coming to life but it’s also very much in the mainstream already and in many living rooms thanks to devices like the Kinect. Who would have thought 10 years ago that we would be racing around in cars and fighting using real world gestures…

Another amazing part of the film was the ability for Tom Cruise to pull out disposable computer screens that were paper thin. Although that technology is not quite here you can see from the lab video below and hundreds of others that you’ll find online that this technology is only around the corner and very soon paper thick computing surfaces are going to be a reality.


So while cars were flying around in the movie and we are not quite there yet, you can see from the videos below that we are starting to make the most dramatic changes in the motoring industry that we have seen in a generation. At its most basic level, real cars now offer things like intelligent parking mode, which removes the human driver from the equation.

In recent months Google have been taking this concept a step further by testing the first computer powered cars that don’t even need a driver at the wheel. They have been spotted out on the open road and this demo shows the accuracy and speed with which the cars can drive around an actual race track.

Although none of those cars are visually stunning they do seem to work pretty well and for those of you wanting something a little easier on the eye don’t worry because Jaguar havs that on the way for you. This car is not only beautiful but also travels from 0 to 100 KPH in under 3 seconds but is also fully powered by electric turbines and set to hit the roads in 2013.

What’s Around The Corner

Most of the examples above are of technologies that already exist in the real world today but just around the corer the pace of change is even more exciting. All of the above should come together to form the sort of daily sequence that we see in this video. 10 years ago we would have thought this was only a dream but you can see how we are not that far away from this actually happening.

The Most Accurate Predictions In Film Ever?

It may seem obvious looking back now that all of these things came true in the end or are just about to but if you think back to 2002 (or even earlier when the film was actually written and filmed) it was still the early days of the Internet and things like social media hadn’t even been heard of. The job the team did on this film of predicting the future is absolutely stunning and the fact that nearly everything has come true is amazing.

10 years is a long time in the world of tech and I would love to see some sort of follow up where the team behind this film got back together to shoot a similar film showing us what will be happening in the year 2022 because if there is a similar pace of change in the next 10 years we need these guys predicting it. Films about the future very rarely come true or are wide of the mark with their predictions but in terms of this example it is spot on and the team behind Stephen Spielberg deserves recognition for that.

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