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This Ars Technica article discusses the design principles of the Star Trek LCARS touch-based user interface from The Next Generation as it was imagined in 1987 and how it relates to Apple's iPad.

Reading this article led me to wonder: what are some other examples of interesting, inspiring, forward-thinking user interfaces from sci-fi universes? Please add references or imagery where possible, and try to talk a bit about why it's interesting.

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Added a bounty to this one. Would love to see more examples. –  fluxd Nov 15 '10 at 17:57
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34 Answers

Here is a presentation by previously mentioned Sci-fi GUI Designer Mark Coleran.

UX Week 2010 – Mark Coleran – The Reality of Fantasy

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It's from gaming, but I'm a big fan of skeuomorphic UI designs in the Fallout games. Though they are essentially user interfaces created by simulating a real item, skeuomorphic designs build on what can or does physically exist, rather than what one can draw on a computer screen or in mid-air with a hologram.

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From Avatar, I loved the virtual screens that they could pick up and move about places, to show someone. That was very awesome. Virtual screens are pretty cool to start with, but being able to take a screen copy, not just a print, I like.

However what I want from every single SF movie ever is a computer system that a) alerts me to the important email and stuff, and ignores the spam and b) enables me to achieve anything I want on it in a matter of minutes. Finding secret documents, disabling the air conditioning - everything.

And while I am being slightly tongue-in-cheek, interfaces that only alert me to important stuff and allow me to achieve my tasks easily would be a major achievement. We are working towards it, but there is still a long way to get there.

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