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A minority report on the future of pixels

A vacuum in professional computing has resulted from the evolution from desktop to laptop to mobile device. John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries, views the world through pixels and sees them as the key to filling that hole, which he shared in his Smart Building Conference address: “The Future of Work – Workplace Collaboration Thrives in the Spatial Operating Environment”.

As an advisor to the film Minority Report, Underkoffler shared a clip he musingly hoped was “the last time we have to look at this.” Instead of being wowed by the ahead-of-its-time gesture technology, something he derided as “not what’s important,” attendees were asked to look for what was missing.

“This sequence is as much about the collaboration and the room as it is the UI.”

Applying that to today’s business technologies, he asked, “How does computation extend [the] room? It doesn’t. [Modern computing devices] don’t care about the room. You have a bizarre complication.” Because they are so personal in nature, “They are anti-collaboration devices and anti-architectural devices.”

Underkoffler and Oblong Industries are working to get out of this “trap.” His solutions include: the more pixels the better; pixel interoperability; a user interface capable of managing all the pixels all over the place; and plurality, the need for systems that think about more than one thing – enabling the physical and social space for more than one person to work in tandem.

By teaching a machine to speak pixels, multiple applications can run at the same time complementarily. “It’s a kind of quantum leap between what you can do with a machine,” Underkoffler declared.

“We’re turning serialism into parallelism, linear into nonlinear, and raw technology into a more human approach.”