Oblong introduce G-Speak, Minority report for the masses

Oblong's G-Speak is a project from a new line of research at the MIT Media Laboratory.

Development first began in 1994 by trying to make information more literally spatial. Examples of technology were created by building something like a flight simulator for music, in which a listener-pilot swoops and zooms and dives above a vast active living musical score. The music plays in synchrony with dynamic elements that swarm atop the score to keep track of time, to keep track of instruments. Shifting forward to the year 2000 and G-speak's creators are the science & technology advisor to the film Minority Report, which is in preproduction. G-speak's creators were placed in charge of insuring that all the future technology seen in the movie's 2054 setting is plausible. Their major responsibility is to design the interface that will be used in several key scenes. In these scenes, characters must exercise an astonishing control over vast streams of image and video data. The movie was released in 2002 and the actors involved in the project were the first to use g-speak.

Oblong has created something amazing. The UI is the first thing that you'll see, this is merely the surface of Oblong's spatial operating environment, which understands space, geometry, your hands and what they are doing, and the huge amount of real time data required to make an environment like this work effectively in the networked world.

Over the past two years, Oblong has very quietly put together an incredibly gifted team of software developers to create what they believe is the future of how humans will interact with computers. Using a pair of gloves users can manipulate pictures on screen by zooming, panning, pulling and even transferring pictures from a screen to a surface for manipulation. You can dynamically control 3D objects using a variety of gestures such as flicking, scrolling, rotating. In the video below G-speak is demonstrated fully with multi user interaction and direct image manipulation and animation. The designers claim the platform is optimised for massive data sets and time critical work.

According to Oblong the g-speak platform is in use today at Fortune 50 companies, government agencies and universities. A software development kit that runs on both Linux and Mac OS X is available. Applications are source-compatible across both operating systems and can run on ordinary desktop and laptop computers in addition to gesturally-equipped g-speak machines and clusters.

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I actually thought the video was pretty cool. It's true that it works a lot like multi-touch devices like Microsoft's Surface, but I feel like it expands on it by putting things in three dimensions. The surface is still a two dimensional device so it doesn't have the same sense of depth I think, you can't pull in and out as easily from what I can tell (having not actually used a surface I can't say for sure). Also, the scale of it is a bit different since if you had a surface as big as what was in the video you'd have to walk back and forth to manipulate different parts of it.

As for practical uses, I think it's got a lot of potential. It looks like it can do basically anything the Surface does, along with manipulating things in free space. The large grid of blocks is like searching for different files, for example. The first thing that came to my mind is when they're manipulating viewpoints, it looks like a really intuitive way to change viewpoints if you're trying to shoot a video or design a 3d game level or something. That's not to say you can't do similar things with other technologies, it's just a different way of doing it that may or may not be better.

Very cool video. I know this doesn't show any real world practical applications, but either did Microsoft Surface. These things take time, and it isn't as if it is released to the public for purchase. Give this hardware and software some time, and companies to invest in it, then we will see its true potential

I disagree with you on this. Microsoft Surface shows very useful versatile functionality of the application well; where this video kinda show that there's nothing new to what I've seen on Microsoft Surface already.

You know that video was actually really disappointing for me. They didn't show a single, useful real-world example, just lots of fancy stuff that looks impressive, but gives no indication as to how productive it could be.
Why not have a video of them sorting through thousands of pictures for specific ones or whatever?

I bet you could use the screen as a "conveyor belt" and make the pictures go from left to right and you put the ones you want on the table.

I don't know, let your imagination go maybe? It gives plenty of possibilities IMO, but it's the kind of thing that is very hard to do, but once done well, it's just plain awesome.

Yea I didnt see anything impressive that a pointing device (like a better Wii remote) cant do. And the actions on the display in front of the guy could be done with a touch device like Microsoft's surface and you dont need gloves for that.

I would like see this technology being used on mechanical grabbing devices that can be used for deep sea exploration or space but they would need a way for the gloves to have the gloves give a resistance feedback to the user so they dont crush something important.

@Doli : I don't know if you're referring to my "it's the kind of thing that is very hard to do", but I was speaking for the company, not for the users. If invented/introduced properly, it can be gorgeous.

But yeah, it's a brand new way of working that has a lot of disadvantages, and a few advantages compared to what we can do now with mice, controllers and Wii motes, but let's hope the god points take on the bad ones. I remember Steve Jobs saying that the mouse is not ready to be replaced yet (a.k.a. he thinks it's most likely the best solution) and I quite agree with him. Maybe it's the market that's not ready, or maybe it's just not good at all, I don't have my opinion on this really.