Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – A Fun Movie With Some Decent Tech

Hello all! Sorry about the mix-up last week! Hope you enjoyed the stand-in!

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol posterI write a lot of these science fiction posts where I talk about cool technology and some of the ways people don’t do so hot in presenting them, so when I see someone doing a good job of it, I always want to do my best to point them out. That was why I spent all that time on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and why today I’m going to be highlighting a recent movie, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

While I’ve always loved the MI movies, a lot of their charm has come from the cheese factor and over-the-top action (like the whole being chased by a helicopter through a traffic tunnel bit). I had heard great things about the most recent installment, and once I finally had a chance to see it, I was pleasantly surprised not only by the way it managed to recapture the  fun of the series, but also how they managed to pack some pretty cool tech into the action.

So, here’s my highlights for some of the neat stuff from the movie:

Augmented Reality Contact Lens

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol smart lens
Alas, this tech is still really far off and not nearly where it is in the movie

Right off the bat, they pull out one of my favorites: augmented reality! The agents in the film use a specialized contact lens (like the one I’ve described in some of my posts), linked up with a computer database with facial recognition software. The agent just looks around, and the computer gives him information on people around him if they’re in the system. This is exactly the kind of application that is perfect for fiction, and MI:GP did a great job with it.

Adaptive Camoflauge

hallway projector
I can't find any images for the hallway scene for some reason! Anyway, this is sort of how that tech worked- I guess you'll have to see the movie to get the full effect!

Now this example highlights both the pros and the cons of the current-generation cloaking technology that I talked about in this post. While attempting to get down a guarded hallway to a secure file room, agents Ethan Hunt (Tome Cruise) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) set up a rigid curtain onto which a camera and projector display the background behind them, making the hallway appear to be empty as they carefully slide the rig down it toward a confused guard. The camera/projector setup tracks the guard’s eyes, changing the perspective of the image on the screen to match his so that he can’t tell that it’s just a projection. This all works great until multiple guards enter the room and the camera attempts to track more than one person, causing the image to bounce back and forth and make it obvious it’s a fake. This whole scene shows how effective this tech could be, but also the glaring flaws that make it difficult to implement, and for that I applaud the writers.

Holographic Display

Mission-Impossible-4-Ghost-Protocol i8 windshield screenOk, not quite, but almost! While showing off the BMW i8 concept car (the movie was riddled with BMW cameos for obvious reasons), Ethan uses a motion-controlled windshield screen interface to find the best route through the city to the villain’s destination. During this sequence, it struck me how practical that was- it was practically holographic, because the images were suspended on a transparent surface, and by using motion-controls like those of Kinect and Sony Move gaming peripherals, Ethan could easily perform several complex actions that would normally require several button pushes and taking his eyes off the rapidly passing vehicles on the road. The screen also placed markers and arrows right on the road in front of him, taking advantage of augmented reality to give him turn directions, etc.

I read that BMW plans on putting these screens into production, so I’ll be excited to see how those turn out in real life.

Well, that’s it for this week! Next time I’ll get into another Science Fiction Problems! Until then, did anyone else see this movie? If not, I recommend it!

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