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Computer Interaction in Science Fiction Movies

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the there-is-no-spoon dept.

Movies 232

MidVicious writes "From futuristic 'Punch Cards' to Voice Recognition HoloDeck Interfaces, human/computer interactions have always mirrored the base concepts of our emerging technologies. An article from a Saarland University CS Seminar highlights Hollywood history with UI, ranging from the moderately feasible (Total Recall's television/scenery display wall) to the often ridiculous (Swordfish's 6-flat screen monitor setup complete with 3-D virus-hacking environment). An interesting read, especially considering some of the technology is on its way to becoming a reality."

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232 comments

Video game as firewall (5, Funny)

starfishsystems (834319) | about 7 years ago | (#18628841)

My favorite are scenes where figuring out how to hack through some kind of super hardened security amounts to playing a big old video game.

It's like, yeah, that's really how I configure iptables or add a server cert to Apache.

Re:Video game as firewall (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18628949)

You mean YOU don't compile the kernel by using tetris bricks?

Re:Video game as firewall (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 years ago | (#18629131)

>>You mean YOU don't compile the kernel by using tetris bricks?

Linux is modular enough that you could do it that way. You can select options based on blocks of various sizes.

Now how long until some one tries it.

Re:Video game as firewall (3, Funny)

shmlco (594907) | about 7 years ago | (#18629419)

That's no good unless you have to quickly catch them as they fall AND orient and place them correctly. I mean, we need to maintain some level of skill. Can't make building Linux kernels so easy that ANYONE can do it... (grin)

Re:Video game as firewall (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#18629083)

I remember back in college we were thinking about writing some software that would generate Quake 1 maps based on the contents of your HDD. It would be a total UI. You could then delete files by shooting them with the rocket launcher and go to different programs by runnin around inside yer HDD.

We never made the Quake UI. I wish we had.

TLF

Re:Video game as firewall (5, Funny)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | about 7 years ago | (#18629119)

You don't? Hell I use psDooM [sourceforge.net] on all my production systems. I like to let my processes sort out their own issues, who needs nice anyways? And boy, with this kind of user interface, I deal with hackers by "iddqd" "idkfa" and then pull out the BFG. Problem solved.

(Screenshots for those who don't remember psDooM: http://psdoom.sourceforge.net/screenshots.html [sourceforge.net]

Re:Video game as firewall (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629187)

Ever see the movie "The Net"? The "hacking" in that movie is cartoonish like you described. My favorite part was when the girl gained access to this one system and was typing in commands like

#> show passwords
**ACCESS DENIED**

then she thinks to herself and tries this

#> show all passwords
root:sw0rdf!sh:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash
bgates:BS0D:666:666:redmond:/var/crash:/win32/cmd. exe
bin:nom@d:1:1:bin:/bin:/sbin/nologin
daemon:ex0rc!sm:2:2:daemon:/sbin:/sbin/nologin

Bingo!!! Yup, it really is that easy!

Seriously though, most of the stuff is so far from reality. I would welcome some more realism or something 3D based on a realistic concept (check out youtube for the "Minority Report Computing" video http://youtube.com/watch?v=PLhMVNdplJc [youtube.com] ), but I don't see the average Joe being entertained. In fact, the textual based hacking is probably what is unrealistic to him.
 

Flynn Video game as firewall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629245)

"My favorite are scenes where figuring out how to hack through some kind of super hardened security amounts to playing a big old video game."

Tron 2.0

Re:Video game as firewall (5, Funny)

Clazzy (958719) | about 7 years ago | (#18629547)

What they don't realise is that firewall configuration goes something like this:

You are now entering port 80.
It is pitch black.
You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
The batteries have gone on your flashlight.
> CHANGE BATTERIES
You have no new batteries.
You were eaten by a grue, port 80 is now open.

Lex says... (5, Funny)

the_tsi (19767) | about 7 years ago | (#18628881)

This is a Unix system! I know this!

Re:Lex says... (3, Funny)

lottameez (816335) | about 7 years ago | (#18628931)

Jurassic park? I laughed when I heard that line. "Run like hell" I said, "you'll never figure out what the csh call is in time!"

Swordfish (1)

Life700MB (930032) | about 7 years ago | (#18628885)


What's wrong with the six panels? I use three 19'' at work (with Matrox hardware and a el-cheapo nvidia card) and is an extremely nice setup to work with various VMWare virtual machines at once.

--
Text link ads, the easiest way to earn money with your web [text-link-ads.com] !

Re:Swordfish (4, Funny)

dbhankins (688931) | about 7 years ago | (#18628951)

It wasn't the six panels that was ridiculous, it was the additional peripheral the hacker had to deal with during his job interview.

Re:Swordfish (1)

harp2812 (891875) | about 7 years ago | (#18629047)

It wasn't the six panels that was ridiculous, it was the additional peripheral the hacker had to deal with during his job interview.
What? I thought biological interfaces were all the rage these days...

Mmm... interface...

Re:Swordfish (1)

metlin (258108) | about 7 years ago | (#18629541)

What? I thought biological interfaces were all the rage these days...

Mmm... interface...

As someone once said -- "The nipple is the only truly intuitive interface". ;)

Re:Swordfish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629599)

That was such a nice interface that it justified some new hardware for the hacker, if I recall.

Re:Swordfish (1)

grimdawg (954902) | about 7 years ago | (#18630195)

I laughed for days at the setup in swordfish. It's not the six monitors - it really isn't. It's the way they were set up in a random distribution in front of him, at all kinds of height and all angles. Moreover, there was a screensaver running between the six of them. It was like looking at a TV with a piece of paper held in front of your face, with six random holes puched in the paper. Really ridiculous. The producers of films obviously think the way to 'wow' audiences is to make things seem very different to what they've got. If I ever get 2 monitors (money is something I like, but don't have), I'll probably put them side by side, not a metre apart and at different heights.

Alien (3, Insightful)

chebucto (992517) | about 7 years ago | (#18628887)

The computer in Alien (the first in the series) was unrealistic - not because of the artificial intelligence or natural-language processing, but because of the cumbersome way commands were entered and the unnecessary tekno-futurism of the computer room. Still, it was really good at helping the conspiratorial mood of the movie, and it is still one of my favorites in terms of fictional computers. I think the Star Trek TNG computers were probably the best depiction of how computers should be.

Re:Alien (3, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | about 7 years ago | (#18629043)

I think the Star Trek TNG computers were probably the best depiction of how computers should be.

The TNG computers were pretty good. I remember seeing an interview with Michael Okuda talking about the challenges of creating something that people would accept as 23rd century technology, but having to use 20th century technology to do it. I also remember, when TNG was just about to debut, remarking in another forum that the TOS computers looked clunky by then, and that the flight deck of a Shuttle or 767 looked far more futuristic.

While it never made it in to film, the interface in the later Foundation novels wins for me.

...laura

Re:Alien (4, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | about 7 years ago | (#18629375)

Star Trek has predicted other aspects of communication/information well enough, I don't see why predicting useful GUIs would be out of character for the series. Aside from the obvious cell phone = communicator, we also saw Uhura's bluetooth earbud, and between MRIs, spectrometers, and NASA's NUGGET (Neutron/Gamma Ray Geologic Tomography) we are working our way to a proper tricorder.

Re:Alien (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18630119)

While it never made it in to film, the interface in the later Foundation novels wins for me.
Do the UI components still explode with a sea of sparks every time the ship has any problem like in the TV shows? Or have they finally figured out how to get input from consoles without needing 100,000 V and a couple of pieces of random explosives strapped inside?

Re:Alien (5, Funny)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | about 7 years ago | (#18629595)

I think the TNG computer was a sack of crap, you ask it where someone is and its says they aren't on board, if the computer knows where people are on he ship, why doesn't it tell you something usefull like, they went crazy and flew off in a shuttle or they mysteriously vanished from some coridor due to weird alien crap. And why didn't it tell someone when they went missing, rather than sit there like a fucktard for 5 hours untill someone notices they are gone before telling anyone they were mysteriously abducted by wierd energy monsters or whatever. The interface was good, with the touch screens and the voice, but the AI of the thing was dumb as fuck.

Re:Alien (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 7 years ago | (#18629777)

Maybe the crew liked having the freedom of not having their every move recorded. IE the computer only tracked someone down when it was asked to (by command staff even maybe?), rather than maintaining continual tabs on everybody all the time.

Not saying that's the rationale for TNG... but I wouldn't mind a future where it was.

Re:Alien (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 years ago | (#18630357)

Which is fine for a cruise ship. There is no expectation of privacy on a martial craft. Heck, submariners don't even get their own bunk.

Re:Alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18630519)

"I think the Star Trek TNG computers were probably the best depiction of how computers should be."

what, complete with exploding keyboards and 'logic' that can be defeated by simple riddles?

6 monitors (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | about 7 years ago | (#18628895)

Aside from the 3D virus hacking environment, Nvidia does sell graphics cards that let you do 4 monitors per card, so you can get 8 displays. The Quadro NVS 440. So 6 monitors isn't really that outlandish.

3-D interface in X-Men (1)

joshdick (619079) | about 7 years ago | (#18628933)

Does anybody else think that the X-Men 3-D interface is entirely doable?

Re:3-D interface in X-Men (0)

gardyloo (512791) | about 7 years ago | (#18629111)

Does anybody else think that the X-Men 3-D interface is entirely doable?
Sorry, but I immediately wondered if there should be a goatse reference here. Oh... I thought you said XXX-Men.

Re:3-D interface in X-Men (2, Insightful)

StaticEngine (135635) | about 7 years ago | (#18629203)

A mildly nightmarish array of pins that extended from hyrdraulic cylinders, connected to a mux and central pump system, would probably work just fine. The naieve implementation would have all pins either extending or receeding at once, but if you had two valves per pin, you could simultaneously raise and lower individual pins. Encoders could check the height of each pin, and then the whole thing would just be a representation of a heightmap.

I don't think the X-Men display features any color, so this is probably doable today. If memory serves, this kind of display was also in the original Myst game.

Re:3-D interface in X-Men (4, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | about 7 years ago | (#18629437)

I don't think the X-Men display features any color, so this is probably doable today.

I would almost feel sorry for anyone who went through the trouble of building one, without running fiber optics up each pin. The color part should be easy compared to the hydraulics part.

Re:3-D interface in X-Men (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629301)

Sure! You could probably do it magnetically or with pneumatics. A "pixel" size of one square mm should be attainable without even requiring any significantly innovative engineering.

Not sure how useful it would be though. Perhaps for fighter pilots?

Mouse? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18628995)

Am i the only one who notices punching keys is all they do in movies? even tho they have a graphical UI

Re:Mouse? (2, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#18629123)

No, you might be the only one who thinks a mouse is faster than knowing every single keyboard shortcut for what you need when you can type 1,200 WPM.

I guess.

TLF

Re:Mouse? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18630465)

you might be the only one who thinks a mouse is faster

Not the only one. Usability researchers think so too, but that's only because they are deluded enough to actually measure it instead of relying on their flawed perception.

Re:Mouse? (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#18629555)

Am i the only one who notices punching keys is all they do in movies? even tho they have a graphical UI

Heinlein's Universe and Methuselah's Children exposes the problems more clearly.

The starships are sub-light.

The controls and displays must remain operational for decades -- centuries, more likely.

You cannot assume an infinite supply of spare parts or crewmen skilled in making the necessary repairs.

Nor can you risk so commonplace an accident as the slip of the hand that hits the wrong button. The most notorious example being Kirk's court-martial in Star Trek:TOS.

Re:Mouse? (5, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 7 years ago | (#18630355)

See, the thing about menu driven interfaces is they are serious compromises. They trade cost (many buttons and the space they take up) for layers on a single interface (a screen.) When operating critical machinery, you can't be navigating menus. For instance, if cap'n starboy says "shields up", you can't say, "sorry, I didn't get them up in time because I was in the turbolift interface." You need to press a button that puts the shields up, and *right now.* Likewise for any number of critical functions.

I can give you a practical modern example. I own a Denon 7.1 channel surround system. It's really pretty decent quality, and it is the main system for our theater. If you want to do anything besides change sources or volume, you'll be navigating menus. Sometimes... lots of menus. It's a pain in the butt, and it is slow. This thing cost me about two grand.

In my library, I have a Marantz 2325 [classic-audio.com] , circa 1975 or so. This has every control and status display on a button, knob, or dial. There are only two multi-purpose things on it. Consequently, it is a lot easier to run - everything is always in the same place, and the things you use often you learn where are almost immediately - and it is a whole lot faster to operate. Want to turn up the bass? Reach for the bass control. Want just bass on the left speaker? Inner concentric ring of the bass control. And so on, for almost every function on the unit. It's not perfect - FM muting level is on the rear, and the Dolby levels take over the FM signal strength meter when you want to look at them, but man is it a lot easier and more comfortable to operate than the Denon. But accounting for inflation, the retail on this was about five grand. Those buttons and knobs are very costly. It isn't just advances in electronics that make that relative price drop!

The Denon actually has a lot more functionality. But getting at it is tough. Practically speaking, that actually means that mostly, I don't get at it at all.

Coming back to a computer interface for a spacecraft or a watercraft or any war machine, I can see them going back to buttons regardless of the ability to fold functionality into a graphic interface, because with a button, a well trained person goes right to the function and time may be of the essence in any one of a number of situations, including some that may not have been foreseen by the system designers. Buttons cost more in terms of real estate, but then again, they can give you more in terms of outright survival.

Buttons are faster than speech, too, even if there is no latency. Takes about 40 ms to hit a button. You can't talk that fast. It's just that simple. Now, if they ever manage to make a mind to machine interface, we'll be on new ground, but until then... buttons ftw. :-)

about the 'often ridiculous' (2, Informative)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | about 7 years ago | (#18629009)

The claim that something similar to the system depicted in swordfish is ridiculous, is on itself ridiculous. Multi-monitors are nothing new; even ordinary PC users with a decent graphic-card can already link two. Currently, there are already systems which can handle *more* then 6 screens.

And as far as the 3D goes:

"HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- August 9, 2004

Sharp Systems of America, a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation, today introduced the Sharp LL-151-3D display, Sharp's first stand-alone display that features Sharp's 3D LCD Technology. This exciting 15-inch 3D LCD monitor delivers eye-popping 3D images to the naked eye, and can be easily switched between 2D and 3D viewing for standard applications such as spreadsheets, word processing or email. "

Note the date. It's not even Sci-fi anymore.

3D displays (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 7 years ago | (#18629181)

And as far as the 3D goes


Go to a website like Stereo3D [stereo3d.com] . There are numerous way to enjoy stereo 3D with computers : from ultra cheap hacks, to expensive high tech. From immersive interface to systems enjoyable by a large audience.

It's just that, those display fit very special niches (hardcore players of 3d-hamster-maze like games similar to descent, education, scientific/medical simulation, military training, etc.) and are not very usefull for desktops (their effect ranging from useless gimmicks (Vista-style) up to giving motion sickness).

Nobody has come yet with some 3D desktop interface that wasn't just eyecandy but actually useful.

Re:3D displays (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | about 7 years ago | (#18630311)

Nobody has come yet with some 3D desktop interface that wasn't just eyecandy but actually useful.

I haven't been able to come up with a full desktop interface yet, but I've got some ideas for a 3D filemanager [homeunix.org] that I think could be useful for certain kinds of users.

Re:about the 'often ridiculous' (2, Insightful)

edschurr (999028) | about 7 years ago | (#18629639)

I don't know about the /. summary, but the setup in Swordfish was silly because it was only supposed to look cool. There was no HCI behind it: the monitors are arranged such that it would hurt your neck unnecessarily. The technology was superficial—it was a prop.

Re:about the 'often ridiculous' (2, Insightful)

Cervantes (612861) | about 7 years ago | (#18629967)

I agree, multimonitor is old news. I remember many years ago digging up a lot of cords and spare parts so I could see if I really could fill all my PCI slots with graphics cards and have it work. 6 monitors later, I did. :)
Heck, I'm pretty sure I was running Win98SE back when I had 3 monitors running.

Also, I found it humourous that the blurb complained about 6 monitors, directly over a picture of ... 7 monitors.
Great proofreading there guys. Can't wait for you to be a /. editor.

Re:about the 'often ridiculous' (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#18630155)

We had a 6 monitor workstation with a 3d Vis of the ad insertion network at comcast only 2 years ago. No it was not a virus hacking system but it was a network monitoring and response platform for Seachange ad insertion gear.

Re:about the 'often ridiculous' (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about 7 years ago | (#18630591)

The claim that something similar to the system depicted in swordfish is ridiculous, is on itself ridiculous.


If it is ridiculous, it does not have to do with the number of monitors.

I haven't seen it myself, but if it's anything like what I saw on that page, the configuration is silly since the monitors are haphazardly strewn about, and are currently running an animation calibrated to the physical position of the monitors. A more traditional (and generally workable one) is to arrange them in either a line or a grid.

Sharp Systems of America, a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation, today introduced the Sharp LL-151-3D display, Sharp's first stand-alone display that features Sharp's 3D LCD Technology.


I've read that in an article previously. However, the laughs about 3D pertain to using what amounts to prerendered AVI files or video games for developmental/penetration work.

For shame! (2, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | about 7 years ago | (#18629041)

FTA:

which consists of 6 flatscreen monitors of common size put together and probably supposed to be used as an enhanced display.

Great speech from a guy who can't count past 6!

My favorite (3, Funny)

Bongo Bill (853669) | about 7 years ago | (#18629065)

I want a monitor that will project the text I'm typing onto my face.

Re:My favorite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629095)

I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave

Re:My favorite (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629175)

Or one that will translate that text into Braille, to be rendered by electro-magnetically driven anal beads.

Minority Report (2, Interesting)

TheTiminator (559801) | about 7 years ago | (#18629079)

Lets also not forget those great glass monitors used in Minority Report. All one has to do is look at how interaction is working with the Wii. The use of gloves with motion detection is already a reality. The only piece left is the see through monitors. I would love to have one of those.

Re:Minority Report (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629157)

Yeah, because there's nothing better for my visual cortex to do than filter out background crap from my display. Call me when there's *near-opaque* free-space displays...

Re:Minority Report (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 years ago | (#18629167)

Like the Wii fat lazy geeks will get tired of using there muscles and revert the GUI back to the win2k, or dos.

Re:Minority Report (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | about 7 years ago | (#18629367)

Am I the only one here that thinks this would result in very tired arms after a relatively short amount of time? I think I've read similar comments here before. Although I suppose that it could help improve hand-eye coordination....

Re:Minority Report (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629413)

You know, I hear lifting weights can make your arms pretty tired too. Funny thing though, the body adapts, generating greater strength and endurance over time! Wowzers!

Re:Minority Report (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#18629857)

They don't have to be used all the time to be there, and once it is cheap enough, why not? I'd rather have any device on any screen first though.

Re:Minority Report (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18630343)

Correct. [wikipedia.org]

(Admitidly, only elite (and thus fit) cops would be using it, and only for short periods. After all, in the movie, they have a deadline of ten minutes or so.)

Re:Minority Report (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 7 years ago | (#18630395)

The only piece left is the see through monitors. I would love to have one of those.

Then set one up. All you need is a projector that does skew correction (most do) and some transparent material with a partial matte surface. Hit the material from a sharp angle, and the screen will light up and remain transparent, while the through-light goes up and sinks into a black topper, or reflects off the back into another black topper. Shouldn't be much of a challenge at all. Or you can cheap out and use a regular monitor with a camera behind it, and simply mix the camera output with the material to be displayed. It's not really transparent, but then again, what's the difference? You can still see through it, so... :-)

I wonder how far away form GPP interfaces we are? (3, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | about 7 years ago | (#18629105)

After the attempt at Bob and then Clippy I wonder if Douglas Adams predicted where Microsoft will be 200 years from now? Are they the real Sirius Cybernetics? If so how long do I have to wait for my very own Marvin? ...........Now that I think about it hopefully a very very long time.

Sigh (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18629129)

"The conceptual fault here is that the controls of the machine are exactly the opposite of a human-centered design, since user has to work for the device to make it run."

That's the God DAMN POINT, fool.

Re:Sigh (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 7 years ago | (#18630283)

Yes in metropolis that was the point, the people were slaves to the machine... watch somebody orgnize emails or files with microsoft outlook sometime... you have to work the mouse like all get out, traning is short on smarts.

On the other hand the enrichment plants in Blue Ridge were run much like that during WW2 pre-industrial controls. They literally had people monitoring gages and adjusting dials to keep the process in spec... crazy stuff.

Metropolis (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 7 years ago | (#18629151)

The Metropolis interface consists of a person moving levers to positions indicated by lights. Now where have I previously heard the idea of a human augmenting a machine??? .. I am sure I heard it recently .. something to do with a patent application or some such .. I can't quite find it now, but I am sure that rather than using google myself that this post will prompt a person to look it up for me .. Hmm .. is that also a human augmented computer system?????

Again? (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | about 7 years ago | (#18629325)

Is anybody else getting tired of these "silly technology in movies" articles? Seems like there's a new one every other week.

Give credit were credit is due (2, Insightful)

Rumagent (86695) | about 7 years ago | (#18629377)

Given the title of the "paper" and given that he knows how to use references, he could at least admit which luminary in the field of HCI he has stolen the idea from. [useit.com]

Star Trek comm badge logic (3, Interesting)

47Ronin (39566) | about 7 years ago | (#18629389)

Somehow the way comm badges work in Star Trek doesn't make any sense. Take the scenario which is frequently done on the show:

(1) Enterprise bridge crew is watching an away team's planet survey on the main viewscreen. Captain Piccard decides to ask Commander Riker (who is on the away team) a question.

(2) Scene cuts to the planet. You see Riker with his away team. Suddenly you hear Piccard's voice on Riker's comm badge "Piccard to Riker: Report!"

Now tell me this... In this scenario, Piccard supposedly hails Riker and even though there is no "routing" done with the message beforehand, Piccard's entire vocal request automatically goes to Riker and ONLY Riker, though everyone on the away team has a comm badge. In fact, you hear the initial request for Riker on his own badge. Did the comm badge psychically know to message Riker solely at the instant Piccard clicked his comm badge to transmit?

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629459)

It could listen to the content of the command, recognize that it contained a recipient, and route with only that necessary delay. Granted they don't portray it that way, and they definitely take liberties with routing intelligence, but this particular scenario isn't too far fetched.

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (1)

Nivoset (607957) | about 7 years ago | (#18629577)

I always figured that since they always started the conversation the same style. the computer parsed there words through a database to connect and transmit, and just relayed it so they knew who was addressing them

but that is my silly simple idea of why..... and it was a tv show

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (4, Insightful)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | about 7 years ago | (#18629631)

As sad as this is... Ive actually thought about that too. What follows is my attempt to justify the technology and what must be going on, with what you would see on the screen.

Lets say that Picard(on the bridge) taps his badge to ask for Riker(not on the bridge). This is how that might work;

1)Picard taps the badge to initiate the comm link.
2)Picard begins the link by stating who he is, and who he is attempting to contact.
3)With just a few second delay, the computer could derive from the audio who the intended recipient is.
4)Having cached the entire audio to determine who is the recipient, the ships comm system then forward this cached audi(mith a few second delay) to the recipient.
5)When the recipient hears the request come through on their badge, the link is already established, and there is no more need for a delay.
6)conversation proceeds as normal.

And no fair to the guy who said "you need to get laid". To that I say... "You need to stop getting laid, we have enough friggin people here!"

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (1)

3seas (184403) | about 7 years ago | (#18629729)

http://www.neurophone.com/tech.htm [neurophone.com]

the transmission method of a com badge.

Directing it to an individual, that only that individual can hear it would be good for an away team in a dangerous situation.

but how they dial the individuals com badge number can be a simple thing, as an away team with com badge access can be limited in size where it can easily be a combination of taps and number of fingers, etc...

I mean damn, don't keyboards just keep getting smaller and smaller?

Maybe if there were some large mechanical switches then it'd be more believable? (NOT)

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (1)

LittleJimmy (1059296) | about 7 years ago | (#18629909)

What really doesn't make sense about communicators in that show is how inconsistent they are about activation methods. Sometimes they have to tap the communicator before they start talking, other times they don't.

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (2, Insightful)

slickwillie (34689) | about 7 years ago | (#18630203)

And they NEVER tap the badge to end the conversation.

And in the original ST, they always began with "Computer ...". How was the computer supposed to know when they had finished?

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 7 years ago | (#18630327)

when you've completed a valid series of commands and stopped talking. Computers in 2200 would have enough HP to tell not just being talked to, but also the focus of the user... i.e. when you're not talking to it anymore.

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (2, Interesting)

wheels4u (585446) | about 7 years ago | (#18630269)

Maybe the comm badge knows what he is thinking, from neural activity and possible outcomes of the ongoing situation, tone of voice, perspiration, often used routes are preselected.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Re:Star Trek comm badge logic (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 7 years ago | (#18630359)

for seconds, all the comm badges are tied to the universal translator implanted early on. So we're not really hearing them talk "into" the badge, that's TV land. Think a really small bluetooh transmitter...heck we're already there. The comm badge is just a buttonless cell phone, probably with peer to peer calling as well ... iPhone should be able to do that in June. Satillite ground to space phones have been around for years. See, it's not that hard!!!

A Unix Computer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629473)

A movie line that always amuses me:

"A Unix computer! I know this!"

Where do they get Compatible Cables? (3, Insightful)

krbvroc1 (725200) | about 7 years ago | (#18629601)

In all these movies, they are a joke.

I mean, I cannot find a proper cable and even then I need to dig out 3 gender changers and a break-out box. These guys can I/F with some computer port from a different civilization using the same RS-232 port and a TTL voltage. Amazing! If only we the same interoperability here on planet Earth.

Bad example (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629643)

here's what the stupid article says about Metropolis : "The conceptual fault here is that the controls of the machine are exactly the opposite of a human-centered design, since user has to work for the device to make it run."

Duh ! That was the point of the movie !

that bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629671)

Another variation is taken from "The Matrix: Reloaded", from a scene where the ship Nebuchadnezzar docked to Zion, the base of the humans. The operators of the base station's terminal are surrounded by a transparent display with touch-screen and apparently using it by common drag and drop operations - the scene is unfortunately very short and details are unclear.


They're within a program designed to assist with the management of the dozens of ships that have suddenly been invented between the end The Matrix and the star of The Matrix Reloaded.

Seriously, what the heck? Include it by all means, but see the film first, please!

Uplink Hackers Elite (3, Informative)

zaibazu (976612) | about 7 years ago | (#18629809)

This game takes it the other way round. It takes a movie style interface and give the the impression you are "hacking" into corporate computers. Pretty entertaining (And it has a Linux Version yay)
Main Site:
http://www.introversion.co.uk/uplink/ [introversion.co.uk]
Review at Home of the Underdogs:
http://www.the-underdogs.info/game.php?id=3044 [the-underdogs.info]

Re:Uplink Hackers Elite (2, Informative)

wizzahd (995765) | about 7 years ago | (#18630567)

Off-topic, but Uplink is a great game. If you like Introversion's style you should check out Darwinia [darwinia.co.uk] , which is another game by them. Beautiful graphics and awesome gameplay!

Metropolis 'interface' (5, Insightful)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | about 7 years ago | (#18629841)

Something tells me that they didn't quite grasp the concepts at work in some of these films, like criticising the metropolis interface for making the 'user' work. The workers in metropolis weren't users, and they didn't interface with the machines, they were slaves to the machines and just carried out the machines instructions, they didn't have any input, they just performed physical labour acording to the machines instructions. The clock thing was like a relay, but with a person doing the physical labour. They seemed to miss the whole point of that scene.

So tempting... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629863)

I know, I know... I am as comfortable in front of csh and piping through awk and sed as most folks are with playing video games. Today, as part of the normal day-to-day crap, I wrote a 15 line perl script without referring to a manual, that formatted a bunch of data and made it all pretty for a browser. My co-workers can all do this.

I'm also big into making films. Much as I want to join the chorus and laugh at the totally unrealistic interfaces, I do realize something: most people don't know and don't care. To them, this is how they see computers. When I type up some bizarre iptables ruleset it's about as clear to them as Swahili is to a goat in Uganda. For the director it's a matter of balancing the telling of the story with realism. This is *tough* to do.

BTW, someone once said that it's better to blame stupidity/laziness/ignorance than malice. I realized this all too clearly when I had to shoot 4 actors. One was *extremely* difficult to light because of his skin tones to the point that I ended up cutting him out of the shot entirely. My ignorance probably contributes to the idea that directors/producers don't highlight certain actors. It's not malice, just that I'm not experienced enough to do it properly. Certainly not an excuse for professionals though... The same thing with computers.. Film guys are not necessarily computer guys (though there's a lot of overlap).

Whoa this is like 2 years old (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629947)

fucking morons

A few things they should have mentioned... (1)

bigsam411 (1043552) | about 7 years ago | (#18629971)

1. Although not necessarily a sci-fi flick, hackers had some really neat 3d hacking... 2. Back to the Future had some interesting hci when a 3d Jaws almost bit Martys head off or when Lorraine mcfly hydrated a pizza. 3. ???? 4. Profit. Oh wait....

IP Violations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18630235)

I'm pretty sure some of this violates some of Amazon's new patents.

TV show Bones (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | about 7 years ago | (#18630385)

I tend to try and overlook alot of the "super tech" computers that TV wants us to beleive us taxpayers supply to our civil servants.. but sometimes it's just too silly. On the show Bones, the 3d holographic display with what looks like rain coming down, is just too much. Maybe a holographic display will look like that someday, but I doubt it.
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