New Indoor Tracking Reminiscient of Minority Report

It’s always fun when real life catches up with future-based cinema. Soon, Blade Runner’s 2019 will come and go without a flying car in sight. (Probably.)

It all gets a bit spooky, though, when future-based cinema gets things right.

Well, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise’s Minority Report may have got something right.

Wired Magazine have reported developments in new ‘Indoor Tracking Technology’ by a UK company called SiRFusion, which will help people navigate buildings and shops, just like a lot of us already use online maps to navigate roads.

The system could map out a shopping mall, for instance, and point you in the right direction of particular stores. Fancy a bite to eat? Get directions to the food court.

SiRFusion in action, with a map of the entire mall.
SiRFusion in action, with a map of the entire mall.

The Minority similarities begin with the system’s potential for tracking individuals. In the movie we see a system of eye scanners everywhere, even in shops. Considering this is used to check where someone is at all times, it’s no surprise Tom Cruise’s rebellious character John Anderton is often evading the scanner’s gaze.

With the real life navigation system there is a requirement to be connected to mobile data and WiFi to unlock its benefits. But if SiRFusion can tell you where to go within the distance of a metre, that means it can tell where you are. 

This means that as well as the manufacturers selling off information about consumerism, they could even disclose information to Police over the whereabouts of a particular person before they committed a crime, or became a victim of a crime. Just like in Minority Report. 

This would be a small step from the information and usage data the likes of Facebook and Twitter sell to the highest bidder every day in order to derive our habits as a society.

Things get even more Minority Report-like when you consider the prospects for personalised advertising similar to that seen in the movie. Touched upon by Wired Magazine in the source article, there are huge prospects for shops to notify you of in-store deals when you enter a mall, or for billboards to change to a specific advertisement from a selection depending on your age, gender and shopping habits. 

Ultimately the system should become useful for everyone, but it doesn’t stop the accuracy of Minority Report‘s forecast being a bit spooky, and highly commendable. Bravo, Steven.