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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, is as good as you’d expect from a pair of cinema legends. It offers up a smart, heartfelt and scarily prescient commentary on where humankind might be headed — all wrapped up in a gripping, visually stunning action-thriller detective story.

One of the things the really sets Minority Report apart from other movies is just how plausible its fictional world feels. This is largely thanks to the think tank of actual futurists that Spielberg assembled to help him realize his vision of 2054.

It should come as no surprise, then, that so much of the futuristic hardware we see in the film is now very much a reality in our world. While long-range personal jet packs unfortunately remain a mere pipe dream (for now), here are five Minority Report technologies that came true.

5. Gesture-Operated User Interface

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 realized? Well, actually — no.

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 fact, in 2010, the science geeks over at MIT even went so far as to use a Kinect unit to replicate the exact same setup as that used in Minority Report!

4. Self-Updating Newspaper

The real question is whether newspapers will even survive into the future. 'Minority Report' [Credit: Fox]
The real question is whether newspapers will even survive into the future. 'Minority Report' [Credit: Fox]

Imagine holding 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, with a little lateral thinking, it becomes clear that this technology is 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. 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 over the horizon, either. Paper cuts, take heed: Your days are numbered.

3. Eco-Friendly Cars

Behold: the traffic jam of the future! 'Minority Report' [Credit: Fox]
Behold: the traffic jam of the future! 'Minority Report' [Credit: Fox]

In the world of Minority Report, traditional gas-powered cars have been replaced by “Mag-Lev” autos that emit no toxins, and are capable of driving themselves (they all seem to have been inexplicably built 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 the 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 automobile market, they’re likely to catch up to them (and soon, too).

2. Pre-Crime

No word on whether any real-world detectives have been required to float in a kiddie pool. 'Minority Report' [Credit: Fox]
No word on whether any real-world detectives have been required to float in a kiddie pool. 'Minority Report' [Credit: Fox]

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 that draws upon years of police data to predict criminal activity “hot spots.”

This allows them to monitor these areas more closely, and effectively respond to crimes as they happen, rather than after the fact. The system apparently works, too: The city has reported a 31 percent decrease in incidents of serious crime since the software was first implemented.

1. Personalized Ads

There’s an infamous scene in Minority Report where Anderton walks through a shopping mall and his retinas are scanned by various store fronts, prompting a series of personalized advertisements on the spot.

While targeted, individualized ads might not yet assault our senses when walking through the mall, 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 personalized ads we have now transform more fully into what was seen in the Minority Report, especially since at least one company is already working on the hardware as we speak!

That’s all from me — now it’s over to you! 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!

(Sources: SingularityHub, Wikipedia, Fast Company, The Telegraph)


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