When I was young, I loved reading science fiction. Now, years later, it is fun to see which of the author’s imaginative predictions have actually become reality. I still enjoy dreaming about the future so I couldn’t wait to see Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Minority Report. Set in Washington, D.C. in 2054, this fast-paced film focuses on the police department’s Precrime Unit. This police unit, with the help of three talented psychics, prevents acts of murder before they occur.

While the dazzling world that Spielberg created was enthralling, it was actually difficult to follow everything that was happening. If you are interested in technology, you may want to see the movie a second time just to focus on the futuristic technology that the movie projected. For those of you who may not want to see the movie once, let alone twice, let me give you a brief run down of some of the film’s anticipated technological advancements.

Foremost in the movie was the idea of biometric identification. In 2054, everyone is uniquely identified by retinal scans. Even billboards and storefronts were able to uniquely identify each person, offering them personalized products. In one scene, a billboard calls out to Tom Cruise, who plays Paul Anderton, the lead character, "John Anderton, you look like you could use a Guinness!" In the movie, Paul Anderton even went to the extent of having his eyeballs replaced to hide his real identity. We already have the technology necessary to do retinal scans and identifications. In fact, the events of September 11th have moved biometric identification to the forefront. You definitely won’t have to wait until 2054 to be biometrically identified and to be offered the personalized marketing that is sure to ride along with it.

John Anderton used a computer interface that floats in mid-air, which he manipulated by gestures controlled by his gloves. Certainly this portrayal of the computers of the future was accurate in that computers are sure to be much more integrated with our surroundings. In fact, a current computer project at Massachusetts Institute of Technology is called “Oxygen” on the basis that someday computers will be as ubiquitous as the air that we breathe.

A subway scene in the movie showed a newspaper that morphed in front of the reader’s eyes as the news was updated. Again this is technology that is already here. Although not yet in mass production, E Ink Corporation, a Massachusetts company, produces electronic ink that can update an electronic newspaper in the blink of an eye and still create a paper-like reading experience.

Many of the movie’s projections seemed quite plausible given the technological advancements that have already been made. It is not hard to image cars scooting about on magnetic cushions or people propelled by small rockets. In fact, the only scene that I found completely improbable was the car factory scene where a car is assembled with an on-the-run Tom Cruise inside. Given the fact that we are already installing American factory robotics that can “see” well enough to adjust themselves to variations in the assembly process, it is improbable to believe that future robotic mechanisms would not be able to detect a variation as large as a person.

Of course, the movie also deals with some of the philosophical dilemmas that advanced technology will bring, including whether or not a person should be arrested before the crime is actually committed. The movie also strongly projects a current craze that has been gaining popularity – product placement. Throughout the movie you will see Guinness, Gap, Lexus, Nokia, Pepsi, and American Express to name just a few. The lack of minorities in a movie called “Minority Report” has also gotten a bit of attention. With all of these threads woven through the film, this is more than an action packed movie. It is a film that can really get you thinking about technology and how it will affect us all in the future.