One of the examples of ubicomp like technology that was referred to the most in my interviews in California last year was the diegetic prototype [see slide 29] gestural interface in the film Minority Report. This was predominantly the brainchild of a chap called John Underkoffler who was the “scientific advisor” on the film, and has since been an advisor on several other films including Iron Man. According to a paper by David Kirby, currently in-press, Underkoffler’s work at the Media Lab was noticed by the production designer and prop master for Minority Report and was brought in as primary science consultant. For Kirby, Underkoffler’s interface is a prime example of a diegetic prototype, a prototype realised in fictional narrative and image to persuade audiences of a technological need, as Kirby suggests of the gestural interface in the film:
These technologies not only appear normal while on screen but they also fit seemlessly into the entire diegetic world. In these cases audiences will accept as true that characters still use these technologies even when they are off-screen… To achieve the sense of an extraordinary techonlogy appearing as ordinary within the diegetic space Underkoffler established the gestural interface as a “self-consistent technological entity” that adhered not only to the rules of hte diegetic world but also to its own internal logic and the constraints of real-world computer technologies.
And, indeed, that diegetic prototype has become a “real-world computer technology”, as demonstrated below.