Life Imitates Art: Microsoft Helps Bring the Future to Life Today

Posted By Kevin Dallas
General Manager

I’m a bit of a movie buff and in the past couple of years I think we’ve seen some technology emerge that mimics one of my favorite sci-fi movies of all time, Minority Report. It’s a bit of a life imitating art moment in that many of the things portrayed as a potential vision of the future are already possible.

If you haven’t seen it, the movie is set in Washington D.C. in the year 2054. Law enforcement officials are able to prevent crime before it happens: three psychics see into the future and then feed the information to members of the police force’s Precrime Unit, who go out and arrest the criminal before the crime is actually committed.

It’s certainly an interesting story line, but what really intrigued me about the movie was how director Steven Spielberg captured the concept of the intelligent system as part of everyday life, and how a movie filmed more than a decade ago accurately depicted devices and intelligent systems that we’re seeing have tremendous impact on businesses today:

  • For example, a department store featured digital signs that used facial recognition software to identify a person and adjust the promotions it displayed accordingly.
  • The whole notion of a traditional user experience was gone. Instead, computers had become part of the everyday fabric. Heads-up displays took the place of an LCD monitor and you used voice and gesture to interact with the computer.
  • One of the more subtle things was the ability to instantly access information no matter where it existed, whether within the Pre-Crime Unit headquarters or located somewhere on the Internet.
  • And finally, there’s the car that Tom Cruise’s character flies around in. As much as I’d love to say that flying cars are already here, what caught my eye is the way in which Cruise interacted with his car, merely by talking to it the way he would a friend, and how the car personalized the driving experience for his preferences.

I could go on, but my point is this: As futuristic as Minority Report might seem, enabling technologies for many of these scenarios are already available. Consequently, we’re seeing devices that mimic much of what we see in Minority Report -- from Kinect for Windows in retail scenarios, which relies on gestures and facial recognition software to personalize the shopping experience, to the voice recognition capabilities of Ford SYNC.

Many of these experiences are powered by Windows Embedded, and created through the expertise and imagination of partners such as Shenzhen Hazens Automotive Electronics Company, PatientLine and Extended Results. And this week, we’re unveiling the roadmap for the Windows Embedded suite of enterprise tools and technology, including Windows Embedded 8.

There’s been an explosion of big data brought about by the existence of connected devices. Companies have the potential to tap into that data and transform it into operational intelligence, and we’re committed to helping make that happen. Microsoft has a broad set of devices, services and products—such as Windows Embedded, and we’re working with our partners to build intelligent systems that provide the value and insight our customers are looking for.

Among the features in Windows Embedded 8 will be the availability of rich application experiences that incorporate touch and gesture input—a bit like those seen in Minority Report.

You can get a more detailed description of what’s in store by reading the feature story on the Windows Embedded News Channel. Better yet, download the Windows Embedded 8 Standard release preview to experience it for yourself.

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