Controls Better than Minority Report's in Works
But the question remains: should we use 3D interfaces to work?
The same research society responsible for the development of the MP3 compression algorithm has developed as gesture control interface touted as better than the fictional one featured in Minority Report.
A development team based at the Fraunhofer Technical Institute has created a system that can track the movements of several hands—right down to each individual finger. This "3D Multi-touch interface" doesn't require users to wear gloves, and allows them to control virtual objects with all ten fingers.
No word on when the institute will push to adapt the system for practical applications. It's appropriate to consider the opinions of usability expert Jakob Nielsen, who wrote about 3D interfaces back in 2006:
Many user interfaces designed for the movies feature gestural input and 3D data visualizations. Immersive environments and fly-through navigation look good, and allow for more dramatic interaction than clicking on a linear list of 10 items. But, despite being a staple of computer conference demos for decades, 3D almost never makes it into shipping products. The reason? 2D works better than 3D for the vast majority of practical things that users want to do.
3D is for demos. 2D is for work.
The Technical Institute is part of a wider society of 59 research institutes distributed throughout Germany, operating with an annual budget of 1.6 billion euros.