GUIs in Spaaaaace
May 2, 2007 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Computer interfaces from science fiction. Some of these interfaces (such as Minority Report) may be close to reality, while others are are being built by fans, and many more are just bad ideas. And, for reality's sake, there are also references to Windows in science fiction. See also this presentation about biometrics in science fiction [note: mp4 movie, the presentation starts about 20% in, and features Leprechaun 4: Leprechauns in space.].
posted by blahblahblah (43 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Regarding Metropolis: The conceptual fault here is that the controls of the machine are exactly the opposite of a human-centered design, since user has to work for the device to make it run.

That was the point of the scene - serving the machine was pointless, demeaning labor.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:00 PM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Similarly, all of the user interfaces used in film are there for the benefit of the audience, not the user- that's why LCARS is so giant and chunky; it shows up better on tv. You'd go nuts trying to actually run a spaceship with it.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:03 PM on May 2, 2007


Countless scenes involve unauthorized access to some system. Invariably, several passwords are tried, resulting in a giant "Access Denied" dialog box. Finally, a few seconds before disaster strikes, the hero enters the correct password and is greeted by an equally huge "Access Granted" dialog box.

A better user interface would proceed directly to the application's home screen as soon as the user has correctly logged in.


No way! I've always wanted an Access Denied/Granted thing. "Access Denied" should be in red and accompanied by a deep and angry male voice, whereas "Access Granted" should be in green and accompanied by a soothing female voice.
posted by brundlefly at 12:09 PM on May 2, 2007


I was ready to rip on that UI Bloopers page for being neckbeardedly focused on unimportant nits, but fortunately I read to the end first.
posted by DU at 12:14 PM on May 2, 2007


Wall-mounted keyboards? It must be...the future!
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:23 PM on May 2, 2007


no references to Tron? I wanted that desk so bad.
posted by parmanparman at 12:29 PM on May 2, 2007


My personal favorite is the traffic control computer UI in The Matrix: Reloaded. They're transparent screens on which the woman usnig them simply move small windows around at a rapid pace, with no purpose as far as I could discern.

I like to think they were playing Zion's version of Solitaire.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:43 PM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


"no references to Tron?"

Didn't read all the links yet, did you?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:46 PM on May 2, 2007


I kind of question the time traveler thing. If you had a time machine and were comming back to now and had some clue about our dependance on computers wouldn't you try to find one that was still working (or go back to 5 years from now and pick one up off the curb somewhere) so that you could brush up a little and not look like an idiot?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:49 PM on May 2, 2007


parmanparman,
They mention Torn in the Windows link as a sort of foreshadowing of the opensource vs. proprietary battles of the 90s/today.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:50 PM on May 2, 2007


Interfaces aren't cooler when they're easy to use, they're cooler when no noob has any chance of using them. Like an all black keyboard.
posted by Citizen Premier at 12:54 PM on May 2, 2007


My (nearly) favorite part of Blade Runner is the computer graphics, which were not only done on an Atari 800 (it's painfully obvious) but to a degree of quality that I was surpassing as a child, in the same year the movie was released.
posted by davejay at 1:03 PM on May 2, 2007




I've been thinking that iPhone = LCARS.

I liked the holographic tools used in Final Fantasy Spirits Within.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:09 PM on May 2, 2007


I thought the main link was really interesting, though they didn't really discuss biological interfaces, (other than the bablefish), I'm thinking of Pilot from Farscape and Sandstrom from Hyperdrive, where the way that the characters are interacting with the ship is through a living creature that is tied directly to it.

I'm guessing this didn't come up, because it really isn't too different from those characters dealing with each other, where the ship is just another player in the story. But technically, it could be considered an interface.

Speaking of biological interfaces (get yer mind outta the gutter) there was also much of the tech in eXistenZ which had a distinctly 'alive' vibe about it.
posted by quin at 1:15 PM on May 2, 2007


I'd love to be able to move the pointer using my eyes but still have a button that I could click to activate things. Please invent that soon.
posted by zeoslap at 1:29 PM on May 2, 2007


quin,
I think such "living systems" would be roughly the same as a voice-controlled system with an AI. Unless the living computer could read your thoughts, you'd have to tell it what you want.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:33 PM on May 2, 2007


The time travel bit in Star Trek, The Voyage Home got it right when Scotty sat down at the Mac and said "Computer!" and nothing happened. The man next to him says "Try using this," and hands him the mouse, which he hold up to his mouth and says "Computer!" into, again. Classic scene that got the unfamiliar system thing right. But then he goes on to design some crazy future-gizmo-thing on a Mac Plus and blows the whole thing, reality-wise.

Oh, and "Take me to your nuclear wessels" is probably the best line from all the Trek movies.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:36 PM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I sure hope they don't go too far with the transparent screen/interface things that they had in Minority Report. I can think of little more distracting than being able to see things through my monitor while I'm trying to concentrate on something on my monitor.
posted by moonbiter at 1:39 PM on May 2, 2007


My (nearly) favorite part of Blade Runner is the computer graphics, which were not only done on an Atari 800 (it's painfully obvious) but to a degree of quality that I was surpassing as a child, in the same year the movie was released.

PURGE!
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on May 2, 2007


Oh, and "Take me to your nuclear wessels" is probably the best line from all the Trek movies.

There is a direct line from this sort of thing and Data singing gilbert and sulivan and the whole franchise eventially needing a restrained bolt to the head.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on May 2, 2007


In the 1972 East German sci fi flick Eolomea doesn't have computer monitors, and people sit reading long streams of paper with holes.
posted by JoddEHaa at 2:04 PM on May 2, 2007


See all this movie of all the advertising/interface bits that were done for Children of Men. They did quite a good job with them.
posted by heresiarch at 3:05 PM on May 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Did you hear why they're using Windows 3000 as a prison guard? Because it always locks up! (Futurama - Bendin' in the Wind -- cant wait for its return)
posted by SirOmega at 3:09 PM on May 2, 2007


This animated GIF of Data really wants the image tag. (warning, music - I was lazy and linked my first google hit).
posted by exogenous at 3:12 PM on May 2, 2007


Wall-mounted keyboards? It must be...the future!
posted by zap rowsdower


And those Formica monitors really don't have a lot of resolution.
posted by The Deej at 3:15 PM on May 2, 2007


Wall-mounted keyboards? It must be...the future!
posted by zap rowsdower


And those Formica monitors really don't have a lot of resolution.
posted by The Deej at 3:16 PM on May 2, 2007


My (nearly) favorite part of Blade Runner is the computer graphics, which were not only done on an Atari 800

\begin{pedantic}

Those graphics came from Alien. They were used when Nostromo undocked from the refinery.

\end{pedantic}
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:45 PM on May 2, 2007


My personal favorite sf computer interface is the tiny screen, on top of a typewriter, with a giant magnifier in front of it in Brazil.

P.S. I did an image search for "brazil computer" with SafeSearch off, and the second result was a photo of a man with elephantiasis of the scrotum. Just thought I'd share that.
posted by brundlefly at 3:50 PM on May 2, 2007


I want the desktop computer from The Island, where the mean director/psychologist moves around glass pyramids and such to manipulate on-screen objects.
posted by signal at 4:08 PM on May 2, 2007


A nit: the first link says "“Metropolis” being the oldest science-fiction movie...".
WROOOOOOOONG
posted by signal at 4:09 PM on May 2, 2007


I'd love to be able to move the pointer using my eyes
You mean like JHMCS? (It follows the head rather than the eyes, but it's getting closer.)
posted by forrest at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2007


The MiG-31 in Firefox is thought-controlled. "Think in Russian."

I did an image search for 'brazil computer' with SafeSearch off, and the second result was a photo of a man with elephantiasis of the scrotum.
It's the second result with Moderate SafeSearch on. Oh, unhappy day.

posted by kirkaracha at 4:34 PM on May 2, 2007


I want the desktop computer from The Island, where the mean director/psychologist moves around glass pyramids and such to manipulate on-screen objects.

Seconded. That 2D deskspace was awesome.
posted by linux at 4:45 PM on May 2, 2007


One of my favorite bits regarding computers displays in movies comes to us from Escape from New York, where the very cool wireframe of the NYC is shown on a monitor. Thing is, it was too expensive to actually get a computer to do this so, they made a physical model, put reflective tape on the edges, and used a black-light to get the desired effect.
posted by quin at 4:48 PM on May 2, 2007


IIRC The "hacking the Gibson" scenes from Hackers used a model as a faked up computer representation of "cyberspace", though seeing as it was the 90s I'm not entirely sure why.
posted by Artw at 5:11 PM on May 2, 2007


My (nearly) favorite part of Blade Runner is the computer graphics, which were not only done on an Atari 800 (it's painfully obvious) but to a degree of quality that I was surpassing as a child, in the same year the movie was released.
Yet Photoshop still doesn't have a "seeing around corners" plug-in...
posted by jiawen at 8:51 PM on May 2, 2007


Yeah, speaking of Gibson, my yet-unposted review of Neuromancer contains my thoughts on the whole weird cyberspace thing:
Is ‘plugging into cyberspace’ a big idea? Frankly it sounds a bit insane to me. Not just fantastic, or hyperimaginative or whatever, just plain weird. I don’t see interactions between humans and code ever getting to the point at which ‘hacking into a network’ is a sensory activity, where the actual sensations are wholly imagined, part of the interface. You can either visualize a ‘firewall’ as a ring around a physical ‘network’ and attack it in the manner that viruses and germs attack human cells or actually crack the firewall on the actual, networking level… never the twain shall mix. I mean, if being repelled by a firewall upon trying to exploit a weakness physically damages a person, will my word processor shock my fingertips when I misspell something?
Am I missing something here? It seems like a waste of time to create this incredible abstraction out of code. It's like... I want computers interfaces melt into the background and just fit into the classic ways of interacting with the world, not be more and more byzantine.
posted by Firas at 9:50 PM on May 2, 2007


No mention of the "Global" from Earth:Final Conflict. That's almost a reality, what with OLEDs now.
posted by Zarya at 1:56 AM on May 3, 2007


jiawen writes "Yet Photoshop still doesn't have a 'seeing around corners' plug-in..."

When I was 17, my whole family went on a Christmas trip to Rome. That trip happened to coincide* with a plague of renovation of beautiful old buildings, including the dome of St. Peter's. My father and I, who were both learning Photoshop at the time, figured that someone should code a "De-Scaffoldize" filter. Still waiting on that.

*I'm assuming it's a coincidence, as I had not been there before and have not been there since.
posted by brundlefly at 2:00 AM on May 3, 2007


Stphen Fry had a touch-screen alternative to Windows at the end of Making History.
posted by emf at 5:47 AM on May 3, 2007


"I want the desktop computer from The Island, where the mean director/psychologist moves around glass pyramids and such to manipulate on-screen objects."

Maybe something like this table top synthesizer (youtube)?
posted by jjj606 at 6:47 AM on May 3, 2007


Like an all black keyboard.

Finally, I've found the any key!
posted by yohko at 9:40 AM on May 3, 2007


« Older Soviet Era Art   |   The Battle to Control Obama's Myspace Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments