HCI in science-fiction

(via Mr. Hand), this compelling paper about Human Computer Interaction in Science Fiction Movies by Michael Schmitz have made my day. It essentially surveys different kinds of interaction designs in sci-fi movies ("Neuro technology", Identification, Speech recognition, Intelligent assistants / Avatars, Displays / Other I/O technologies) and show how they relate to existing technologies. Go read the paper to look at the examples (with pictures); What I found interesting here boils down to the implications, basically about the "key factors that determine or influence the design of HCI in movies":

"The probably most important aspect is the availability of special effects technologies - including the budget of a production to use those. (...) Current trends in IT research and products have of course as well an impact on the movie, since this will probably be the director’s background where his ideas will evolve from (...) the importance of the interaction technique or the device itself for the movie as a whole. The technology could be totally unimportant or play an important role for the plot (so called “plot device”), but most of the times technology is found inbetween and has to support the overall authenticity of the vision of a future world. (...) only more recent movies show attempts to design their HCI more carefully. (...) Others try to adapt technologies that were already available and improve them, but concepts of HCI research are normally not addressed. (...) The main reason might be that HCI is still a relatively young research area and slowly becoming more popular during the past decade. Another reason could also be that human centred, pervasive or ubiquitous computing could look very inconspicuous, whereas high-tech in movies should preferably appear more spectacular. "

(Picture from "Johnny Mnemonic")

Why do I blog this? because the intertwining relationships between HCI/ubicomp and sci-fi is of tremendous interest. The normative proximal future seems to be "a tendency towards conversational speech as an interface and 3 dimensional displays that work without head-mounted device". In the end, this might account for the fascination from the audience to think that the future really lays in this sort of stuff.

Also fascinating is the bolded quote in the blockquote above: the importance of spectacular interfaces in movies. How does this translate to design? Is is really a important criteria? (think about the discreet sms and the spectacular AIBO arf maybe I am a party pooper).