The 10 most iconic user interfaces in movie history

Advanced user interface technology was once something that only seemed to happen in sci-fi movies. When we marvelled over the technologies we saw in The Matrix years ago, the concept of controlling and moving 3D objects on walls of glass seemed far-fetched.

But now these technologies not only exist, they're increasingly commonplace, as companies rush to adopt user interface technologies to please their customers and promote their businesses. DJ booths, bar tops, café menus – even virtual store windows – are all utilising these new technologies to create an innovative touchscreen experience, with the aim of delivering a unique, optimised end-user experience to their customers.

As the adoption and development of user interface technologies continues to develop at breakneck pace, we look back at the Hollywood movies that inspired us so much to create them...

01. Minority Report

Minority Report screen technology is a reality in 2012

This modern sci-fi classic involves Tom Cruise working in a futuristic police department where three psychics (or 'precogs') can foresee murders before they happen. Its most iconic scenes see Cruise shifting images and screens around an enormous glass wall display. This was very cool in 2002; it's now very much a reality, with multi-touch interfaces appearing in mainstream products such as Microsoft's Surface and the Xbox Kinect.

02. Iron Man

Tony Stark's helmet holograms brought a new look to movie interfaces

Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man does much of his interfacing via a hologrammatic display inside his helmet – even when he's flying. No one can deny this is very cool, and when something is cool in imaginary sci-fi, it's a good sign we'll eventually see in reality. You can find out more about the incredible FX work Perception NYC did on Iron Man 2, including its interfaces, in this article.

03. Total Recall (2012)

The Total Recall remake featured some amazing looking tech

The new Total Recall features a number of awesome-looking touchscreen technologies, plus lots of new and interesting concepts – not least, changeable computerised faces.

04. Mission Impossible 4

The fourth in the MI series upped the ante further in terms of action and technology

The Mission Impossible juggernaut seems unstoppable, and even those who find Tom Cruise unbearable to watch have to admit a grudging respect for the success of this action franchise. Like its forerunners, and indeed other Cruise movies, number four features a range of cool-looking, futuristic touchscreens that make us fall in love with interface technology just a little bit more.

05. The Matrix Reloaded

What the sequel lacked in terms of plot, it made up for in its vision of futureworld interfaces

Although the plot itself was somewhat disappointing for fans of the original Matrix movie, this sci-fi sequel still features some incredible technologies and concepts – touchscreens galore, voice controls, main frames, robots, spaceships and more.

Next page: five more movie user interfaces