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Five Star Trek Gadgets That Became Reality

Still in the future? Beam me up, Scotty! I said beam me up! Still in the future? Beam me up, Scotty! I said beam me up!

Which of us didn’t point to the flip open communicators on Star Trek and say “One day, we’ll have those?” And now, we do. Let’s take a look at some of the technology from the world of sci-fi that now exists in the real world.

It’s always been this way - the genre of science fiction predicting the future. From the moment Jules Verne envisioned the submarine, the genius brains of those who write what many consider hack literature and cheesy television scripts have been decades ahead of the real world - and startlingly accurate.

The Communicator

In the late ‘60s, the first cell phone was still nearly two decades away - but Kirk, Spock and McCoy could easily communicate with devices that could fit in a hip pocket. Today, the real life flip phone is the size of a credit card, so you can talk to the mother ship whenever they need to remind you to pick up milk and bread on your way home from work!

The Tablet

Pretty blond space cadets were always handing Kirk something to ‘sign off on’ using a tablet and stylus. Now the Apple iPad and the upcoming Google Android powered Tablet have made this another sci-fi dream turned reality. Even the simple tablets the FedEx guys carry for you to sign for delivery are reminiscent of those early Trek tablets.

The Memory Stick

Spock reveled in being able to show off his findings by slotting a small rectangular card into the workstation in whatever room on the Enterprise they were in. We started with floppy disks, advanced to smaller hard ones, and now the USB flash drive has made carrying information from one computer to another as easy as attaching it to your key ring or a lanyard.

Biometric Scanning

We see palm-print and retinal scans all the time now on current television and the concept is in use at some of the most secure facilities on the globe - but this also dates back to the early days of Trekdom. Palm registration was used for identification in one Star Trek episode when Kirk was put on trial - and the first real retinal scanner went on the market 2 years after The Wrath of Khan (which featured the technology) hit theaters. Tech of the future becomes tech of the here and now.

Wireless Earpieces

Who knew at the time that that slinky bit of tech Uhura sported behind her right ear would become reality? The Bluetooth now allows hundreds of earthbound humans to wander the aisles of supermarkets and shopping malls apparently engaged in conversation with themselves. (Isn’t that… like.. the MOST annoying thing ever? You’re walking through a store and someone behind you starts talking loudly and you aren’t sure if they’re yapping at you or not… I’m waiting for the inevitable lawsuit when some dude curses out his girlfriend via Bluetooth and gets decked by another dude who doesn’t notice his earpiece. You know it’s just a matter of time.)

There are plenty of other peeks at the future of technology through the annals of Star Trek history. The sliding doors, which are now a staple at stores and malls but never quite caught on for home use. The handy body scanner in the med lab, which foreshadowed MRI, ultrasound and the CT machine. The ability to communicate with both audio and visual (think modern day webcam/video chat) was definitely thought of by a Trek scriptwriter long before we had the actual technology.

Even if you aren’t a ‘Trekkie’, you can’t help but be grudgingly impressed by the spot on accuracy of some of the Enterprise technology!

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Still in the future? Beam me up, Scotty! I said beam me up!
Last modified on Friday, 12 October 2012 18:35

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