Minority Report – Five technological innovations Steven Spielberg’s adaptation correctly predicted

With all the hoopla surrounding Blade Runner 2049, the upcoming sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, it’s easy to overlook another Philip K. Dick adaptation celebrating its anniversary this month. That’s right: Minority Report recently clocked up 15 years since its theatrical release. The first collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise, Minority Report is as good as you’d expect a movie spearheaded by a pair of cinema legends to be. It offers up a smart, heartfelt, and scarily prescient commentary on where humankind might be headed – all wrapped up in a visually stunning action-thriller detective story!

One of the things that really sets Minority Report apart from other sci-fi movies is just how plausible its fictional world feels. This is largely thanks to the think tank of futurists that Spielberg assembled to help him realise his vision of 2054. So, it should come as no surprise that so much of the futuristic hardware predicted in the film now exists. Sadly, long-range personal jet packs remain a mere pipedream, but here are five Minority Report technologies you can get your hands on.

5. Gesture-operated user interfaces

Way back in 2002, moviegoers marvelled as Cruise’s Captain Anderton pieced together his criminal cases on his computer via a series of intuitive hand movements. Surely, this technology was light years away from being realised? Well, actually – no. As anyone who has ever used Xbox Kinect can attest, this hardware is not only available, but easy to use in the comfort of our own living rooms. In 2010, the science geeks over at MIT even managed to use a Kinect unit to replicate the exact same set-up as that used in Minority Report!

4. Self-updating newspapers


Imagine a newspaper that automatically updates itself with the latest news headlines, as if by magic. While this might sound like the kind of mind-blowing gizmo that could only exist in the world of Minority Report, this technology is (essentially) already within our grasp.

After all, what is a self-updating newsletter but an iPad loaded up with news website apps? If that’s too much of a stretch, consider the ongoing research into e-paper by real-world tech giants, as well. Advances in synthetic, digitally-enabled paper on ink alternatives continue to progress by leaps and bounds, so even if we don’t have this exact doodad quite yet, it’s not too far off, either.

Paper cuts, take heed: your days are numbered…

3. Eco-friendly cars


In the world of Minority Report, traditional petrol-powered cars have been replaced by “Mag-Lev” autos that emit no toxins and can drive themselves (they’re all made by Lexus, too, but I digress…). This was a blue sky concept in 2002, but fast forward to 2017, and the likes of Tesla, Nissan and Chevy have all developed electric vehicles that have achieved both of these goals. True, these vehicles aren’t quite as technologically advanced as their big screen counterparts – don’t expect to see a Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model X drive up the side of a wall any time soon – but with the ever-increasingly focus on renewable energy in the autos market, they’re likely to catch up to them soon.

2. Pre-crime


Anderton’s Pre-Crime police department is reliant on the clairvoyant abilities of the “Precogs”: three genetically abnormal individuals blessed (or cursed) with the ability to foresee violent crimes before they happen. While real-life prophetic powers are almost certainly never going to happen, we’re actually a lot closer than you’d think to emulating Pre-Crime’s facility for predicting and preventing crimes before they happen.

Law enforcement in Memphis has already rolled out a sophisticated computer program developed by IBM, which draws upon years of police data to predict criminal activity “hot spots”. This allows the police to monitor these areas more closely and respond to crimes as they happen, rather than after the fact. Memphis has reported a 31% decrease in incidents of serious crime since the software was first implemented, although the ethics involved remain open to debate.

1. Personalised adverts

There’s a scene in Minority Report where Anderton walks through a shopping mall and his retinas are scanned by the various storefronts, and then serve him up personalised advertisements on the spot. While targeted, individualised adverts might not yet assault our senses when we pop to the ships, they do clog our email inboxes on a daily basis – and all the evidence suggests things are only going to get worse from here.

With retail businesses stockpiling more and more of our personal data, it doesn’t seem so crazy to think that they might one day get their hands on the information stored in our peepers. When that happens, expect to see the personalised adverts we have now transform more fully into what’s on display in Minority Report, especially since at least one company is already working on the hardware!

What other Minority Report technology have you seen come true in the real world? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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