Predicting the Predictions: Sun’s Starfire (1993)

“Starfire” was a concept video from Sun Microsystems, developed by a team led by noted interface engineer Bruce Tognazzini. It’s full of telepresence, multitouch, and all sorts of other other interactivity that we basically have today. It’s from 1993—but it was brought to my attention by PopSci‘s Stuart Fox, who noticed that it is remarkably similar to a “This is the future” video recently released by Microsoft. Except for the special effects and animation looking similar (as well as being free from the awkward narrative of Starfire), it’s really not remarkably different.

What struck me was how much that it’s mostly showing off the future of interface. Interesting enough, but it seems to me that the interesting part of how we interact with gadgets in the future will be more than just multitouch and transparent devices, but will be the subsumption of interface directly into our bodies and environments. Still, I like both videos in their way—it’s just that Microsoft’s is much more immediately believable, as it projects a future that is nearly in reach.

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4 Responses to Predicting the Predictions: Sun’s Starfire (1993)

  1. arkizzle says:

    - Are you a woman? You like flowers and diamonds, right? Our system lets you eavesdrop and gossip, digitally.

    “It looks like an engineer did it..”
    - Lets give it a makeover!

    “Last hydrogen.. hydro.. The last solar-powered..”
    - Need to make up the capibilities of your new product in a tight spot?

    - Is some dicky guy fucking with your presentation? Sun will kick his ass for you, and leave him looking like the little bitch that he really is.

  2. obi1kenobi1 says:

    Knowledge Navigator, anyone?

  3. stumo says:

    I see what you mean about the plot – interesting video though. As you say, most of those things can be done now, to a limited degree; although I’m not sure I’d want colleagues always seeing what I was up to like that!

  4. JPW says:

    I love how the interface sound effect (“swissssssh”) later seemed to get incorporated in MS Bookshelf ’98. . . .

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