I’ve recently begun collecting science fiction movie interfaces and placing the images on a Pinterest board.  It’s a fascinating look at the context of innovation, and what or may not work in real-life scenarios.

There are some interesting trends in these interfaces.  Here’s one I’m seeing as prevalent interface elements – Transparent/Translucent Screens.  While this feature is incredibly cool for movies, it may not be so cool for the future of interfaces.  The camera view can look past the object and straight to the user’s face for a close-up of how that ‘prop’ element affects the actor.  In ‘Minority Report’, Tom Cruise manipulates evidence and is able to catch video elements of the crime on the screen.  We, the audience, are able to participate with Tom – we can both see his face at the same time we’re seeing the interface elements.

Great, all great for the camera.  However, imagine yourself working on critical data, either on your transparent phone or screen.  At the moment of interacting with a blue element, your co-worker walks by and stops.  With a blue sweater on.  Suddenly, that extremely cool interface becomes a real impediment to deep focus.

But where did the transparent UI concept come from?  Was this movie interface a Hollywood invention?  If we look at military innovations, we’ll see the use of translucent screens on modern fighter jets.  Transparent interfaces do make sense, but only when the physical space beyond the glass contains objects that your interface interacts with.  In other words, these transparent interfaces serve as an overlay or superimposed canvas.  This is why it makes sense with Google glasses, Fighter jets and augmented reality.  It doesn’t make sense when the space beyond your canvas is random, and the interface you’re using doesn’t interact with that space.

Enjoy the Pinterest board and these great screen captures from the animated Japanese movie, “Spaceship Yamato 2199”.  I’ll continue to collect movie interfaces as I find them.