Holographic Worlds and Gestural Interfaces


World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.

The Holodeck remains a fantasy for Trekkies and we’re still not yet jacked into The Matrix (or are we? Oooh.). Guys going to enormous lengths to build stuff for their girlfriends, on the other hand, has long been part of the human condition.

World Builder by Bruce Branit is about a guy who builds a holographic world for the woman he loves. There’s a reason it is holographic, which you find out when you get to the ending, so I won’t spoil it here. The film was shot in a day, but then took two years of post-production to finish off. Who says computers make things quicker?

The main reason for blogging it is because of some of the gestural interface elements in it. The overlay buttons and keypads are the usual fare and I remain unconvinced that jabbing at a floating holographic keypad button would be a useful UI approach, although it always looks good on screen. There are also some controls like spreading the fingers to enlarge and object and using the fingertips to rotate a virtual control knob that are already in use in gestural interfaces.

I’m not sure I have seen the idea of being able to pick up things like colours and textures on your fingertips and apply them to objects yet though in an existing multitouch interface. A few desktop applications use that kind of sticky mouse idea and 3D and 2D applications kind of use it with tools and colour/texture chips, but I still haven’t seen it all that smoothly done. Adobe seem to screw this up further and further with every release rather than making it easier. (Does CS really stand for ‘crappy shit’ rather than ‘creative suite’?)

The main issue with a gestural or multitouch interface would be keeping track of the identity of a particular finger tip once it has left the touch panel, it seems to me. But maybe someone has already solved this and it is in use – let me know if you know more.

(Thanks to one of my ex-students, Nico Marzian for mailing me the link).

3 Replies

  • Outdated point of view in my opinion. Take a look at Microsoft's Project Natal. It's a jaw-dropping introduction to virtual interfaces observing human gestures and voice commands. And it makes sense.

  • Outdated in what sense? Wasn't this a film pretending to show an
    interface that doesn't exist?

    I've seen Microsoft's Project Natal – still waiting to see whether
    it's as jaw dropping as it looks on the demo videos because there is a
    long road between using it in a controlled environment and manner and
    it being in a noisy living room with all the randomness that involves.

  • Wow, 2 years of post-production! I've previously heard, that to get 10 minutes worth of final video the shoot goes on for 3 times as long… but then you have fancy post production and trying to be perfect. Moreover, I agree with your take on the UI interface and how the floating holographic keypad remote control looks fancy nice but may never be so practical. It's like having no keyboard and typing on the coffee table!

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