Tech innovation often takes its cue from science fiction movies. Or is it the other way around? Nevertheless, the image of Tom Cruise interacting with a computer by waving his arms in the air in the movie “Minority Report” brought coolness to gesture-based computing. Meanwhile, MIT researchers are making it a reality. Can Apple bring it to the masses?
Before Apple gets to the kind of gesture-based computing in “Minority Report”, Apple products will need to project holographic images for users to manipulate. Think R2D2 projecting a holographic Princess Leia to Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Such an image requires a photographic plate (or multiple projectors). Could one be built into an iPhone? There’s just not enough room for this kind of mirroring system. But there may be someday.
Flying iRobot Sidekick
Everyone needs a sidekick, someone to pick us up when we’re down, like EVE helping WALL-E in the 2008 blockbuster Pixar movie. Of course, the movie was dripping with Apple imagery and gave a nod to Steve Jobs. EVE looked like a futuristic Apple product, and who can forget the Mac startup sound WALL-E makes when he begins his day? Yup, I want my iRobot.
iGlasses Augmented Reality
If you thought hordes of people staring into their iPhones all day looked strange, imagine everyone wearing Apple iGlasses that augment reality. Such futuristic glasses may one day let people check email, make phone calls and identify people and places on the street, just like the Terminator tracking down John Connor.
“I can’t imagine in 10 years we’ll still be carrying around phones in our pocket,” said Kyle Wiens of iFixit in a recent interview. “We’ll have something else, maybe something embedded in our glasses.”
In Star Trek, the main computer seems to be everywhere and nowhere at once — that is, if you don’t count the lovely Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. The late wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry played the roles of Nurse Chapel, Ambassador Troi and the voice of the computer. An omnipresent computer better have great voice-recognition software. Siri isn’t there yet, but it’s a start. (Yeah, we got a Star Trek reference in an Apple future slideshow!)
Apple products have become a part of nearly every facet of our lives, from music to television to social interactions to even work. (Check out 15 Ways iPad Goes to Work) What’s missing? An Apple car that looks like an Apple mouse. Here are a couple of electric car concepts that will bring out your inner geekness. True to iMac’s color revolution, one model even contains photocromic materials so the car can change its appearance like a chameleon.
There seems to be an odd fascination with futuristic Apple toilets. Then again, maybe not so odd. Apple and bathrooms have a storied history. Let’s face it, we use our iPhones there. Consumer electronics insurer Worth Ave. Group has seen a rise in the number of iPhones dropped into the toilet. Late last year, Stanford University found that touchscreen phones have 18 times more bacteria than a toilet handle in a men’s public restroom. The two probably go hand-in-hand.
Can Apple build a spaceship in the future? Okay, that’s just silly. But Apple plans to build a campus, dubbed Apple Campus 2, a four-story circular building holding 12,000 people, spanning 2.5 million square feet, and becoming operational by 2015. One of Steve Jobs’ last acts was presenting these plans to a giddy Cupertino city council, describing it as “a little like a spaceship landed.” (Check out Apple’s Spaceship Campus: What’s the Message?)
While the jury on the mobile keyboard — virtual vs. physical — is still out, everyone can agree that a full-sized QWERTY keyboard is absolutely the way to go for long missives. If you want to type them on your iPhone, make sure to bring along an Apple Wireless Keyboard. That is, unless Apple can build an infrared laser keyboard into the iPhone. Some companies such as Celluon are already dabbling in the technology.
Steve Jobs iClone
All kinds of possibilities are in Apple’s future. Some presented here offer real promise, others are just for fun. But the big question still remains: Can Apple still innovate? To that end, what Apple really needs in its future is another Steve Jobs. (Check out CIO.com Teardown: Apple CEO Steve Jobs)