Hard to believe that Minority Report is from 2002. More than fifteen years later, the film continues to influence the technology we use and develop. What made Minority Report so striking in 2002 was its realistic and reasonable projection of how the world would look in 2054.

The film has become an eerie prediction of the state of modern technology; all wrapped in the tale of Washington’s DC PreCrime unit, which seeks to prevent murders before they happen through the future visions of three mutated humans, known as PreCogs.

From tablets with instantly changing/updating content, to touch- and motion-based UI controls, to stores that greet you by name and ask about your last purchase, very little about Minority Report, except perhaps for the precogs themselves, seems unreasonable.

Steven Spielberg worked with technology innovators and researchers when creating the film and designing its interfaces. It is hard to deny the influence Minority Report has had on consumer electronics and industrial design in general.

What really stands out to anyone re-visiting the film today is how much less futuristic it actually feels in 2019. The gadgets seemed pretty unrealistic when the film hit theaters but eerily enough the gadgets and showed off throughout John Anderton’s daring escape are hardening into reality. It’s incredible, really, to consider how rapidly technology has advanced since Minority Report’s 2002 release.

Gesture-Based Computing (00:00)

What seemed like science-fiction then has since certainly become reality: multi-touch interfaces have been developed by the likes of Microsoft, Obscura Digital, MIT, and Intel.

Driverless Cars (02:24)

John is pursued and attempts to make his escape by traversing an entire highway of glass-domed, driverless cars. According to Elon Musk, self-driving cars will displace 15% of the world’s workforce and Musk warns that driverless cars are closer than they might appear.

Personalized Ads (04:01)

John is followed everywhere he goes in the city by ads screaming his name, shouting for his attention. This type of targeting is now commonplace on the internet. Advertisers use all sorts of data to target their messages to specific types of users, including financial and demographic information, context and location, and users’ previous behaviors. The difference is online ad companies usually recognize potential targets using their cookies, not their actual eyeballs.

Voice-controlled Homes (05:28)

Long before Siri, Alexa Cortana, or Google Home, it may have felt futuristic for John to be able to control his home purely through his voice.

Holographic Projection (05:28)

The video of Tupac Shakur performing at the Coachella music festival in 2012 drew millions of views on YouTube. In Minority Report, John is watching a home video of his wife and pre-kidnapped son. But more interestingly, the video is projected as a 3-D hologram, making it appear as if his wife and son are standing right in front of him.

Facial and Optical Recognition (07:52)

John attempts to evade the citywide optical recognition system through a risky black market eye transplant. Today, we have palm print, retina scans, and facial recognition to help computers recognize us.

 

Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie is loosely based on the short story “The Minority Report” by prolific author Philip K. Dick. Chief of PreCrime John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is witnessed in a prediction killing another man and in his desperate hunt to clear his name, John uncovers that the PreCogs do not always agree. Sometimes an alternate vision of the future is produced, known as a minority report.

Credit: DreamWorks