Star Trek fan? Then 5 April may be a special day for you. Today, in 2063, humans made contact with the Vulcans!
We’re many years away from that though. First Contact Day is actually celebrated with many Trekkies commemorating the day with Star Trek Marathons. Many of those who grew up with the series credit it with their love of tech. Including some of us here at Comms Express.
Star Trek especially has found itself feeding science with ideas of what technology might be like in the future. From the 1960s original series through to the blockbuster films of today. We may be no nearer encountering dilithium crystals than we were 50 years ago but many of the ideas fostered by Star Trek have found their way into the world we live in.
Here are six tech ideas inspired by Star Trek:
The original Star Trek featured communicators that were small, hand-held devices that flipped open for use; very much like a mobile phone. Mobile phone technology has now surpassed mere communication with others of course. Kirk, Spock and co might be shocked at what a smartphone can do these days.
We’re not quite there with the kind of laser weaponry that we saw the crew of the Enterprise deploy on away missions, but we might not be far away. Tasers, which use wires to relay an electric charge, might be the closest we have to phasers at the moment. A company called Applied Energetic has developed Laser Guided Energy and Laser Induced Plasma Energy technologies that can “transmit high voltage bursts of energy to a source.” In other words, hit a target with little collateral damage. So we may be setting our phasers to stun before too long.
One of the most useful bits of kit in the original Star Trek series, tricorders were used by Spock, McCoy and others to collect scientific and medical data and make important decisions about what to do next in a crisis. It seems our equivalent of the tricorder might not be far away with NASA already using an instrument called a LOCAD which monitors for harmful organisms. Meanwhile, a San Francisco-based Scanadu are reconfiguring smartphones to use them to scan for diseases and disorders.
4. Universal Translators
When James T Kirk and his crew were boldly going where no man had been before. While adventuring, they encountered alien races they could always understand them thanks to the universal translator. There are many “Universal Translator” type devices out on the commercial market right now. While far from perfect, many can translate back speech in real time. However, with a fair few innovative startups working on technology, the perfect universal translator may here in the not so distant future.
Dr Leonard “Bones” McCoy could often be found inoculating the crew against nasty space viruses with a hypospray, an injection using high air pressure rather than a needle. The pressure shoots a vaccine deep into the skin so a needle isn’t necessary. In reality, this technology has been around for many years and existed before Star Trek. These jet injectors are a cleaner, safer way of delivering vaccine than injection by needle… we just don’t see them very often!
Personal Access Data Devices (or PADDs for short) are standard issue for the Star Trek fleet and are often used by Alien races too. The PADDs strongly resemble iPads and Kindles and are used in the same fashion.
We hope you’re excited about all this technology! Who wants to take a bet on when we’re going to get personal rockets!!