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GCN : May 2015
[BrieFing] 6 GCN MAY 2015 • GCN.COM OBLONGINDUSTRIES When Tom Cruise waves his hands in the 2002 film “Minority Report” and manipulates data on multiple screens, it’s the stuff of science fiction. Today, though, movie stars aren’t the only ones using gestural technology — gov- ernment agencies are, too. John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries, created the futuristic tech- nology for the blockbuster film. “Steven Spielberg came calling and said basically, ‘Can you tell me what computer interfaces are going to look like in 50 years?’” said Michael Friedel, Oblong’s federal director. “They came up with the glove-based gestural sys- tem — being able to orchestrate mas- sive amounts of data visually without ever touching a screen or a keyboard or a mouse.” For years, the technology was available only as a custom solution. In 2012, however, Oblong released Mezzanine, a commercial version that about a dozen agencies have picked up so far. By wearing a glove or using a wand, customers manipulate infor- mation on multiple screens through gestures. Gestural technology is about more than videoconferencing, Friedel said. The differentiator is how it enables people to work with the same data in real time. “That’s what we call infopresence,” he said. “It’s one thing to be able to do videoconferencing, which a lot of people do today, but it’s another when you take collaborators in multiple locations and you start sharing content [and] data across time and distance.” He said customers use Mezzanine in a number of ways, including executive briefings or customer presentations. It is also a valuable tool for collaboration because a group of local or dispersed ‘Minority Report’ gets real with gesture tech BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ Oblong’s gestural technology is no longer just for Hollywood movies. Public-sector agencies are now starting to use it for presentations and collaboration. 0515gcn_006-012.indd 6 4/30/15 9:35 AM