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Star Trek: Inspiration for Technology Innovation

For 50 years Star Trek has provided inspiration for many of the technological innovation we use today. Here's a look at some that were spot on and some we're still waiting for.  

The team at Allari likes to infuse a bit of Geek in our business. We enjoy discussing managed services just as much as we enjoy discussing Marvel comics. When we write about the business implications of Machine Learning, we can't help but think about the implications Skynet had on John Conner. So it should be no surprise that we're excited about the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, it's relevance in our society and it's impact on technology today. 

On September 8th, 1966, the first episode of the futurist television show aired. Since then it has gone on to spawn thousands of strange new worlds for us to explore including those shown in the tv spinoffs, blockbuster movies, comic book series and even a short-lived cartoon. It's has inspired us to be bold in our exploration and more inclusive in our interactions. It has also gone on to inspired technology dreamers as well.

Cited by everyone from Elon Musk to Amit Singhal of Google, the technological wonders that Gene Roddenberry and his teams dreamed up may have only been fictional fodder of a future far away, but many have served as the inspiration for some real world innovations.

On this 50th anniversary of Star Trek, here's a run down of some of the fictional technologies making real world impact today... and a few that are still a ways off in the future.

 


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PADDs
  Personal Access Display Devices, or PADDs have evolved over the years on Star Trek. Oddly, Apple's iPads have remained about the same. 
Ipad.jpg
 Communicator.jpg
Communicators
  Kirk was flipping his open around thirty years before Nokia's first flip phone hit the market. Unfortunately, they never brought this Star Trek themed one to market
 
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 Tricorder.jpg
Tricorders
  Checking your vitals could never be easier. Tricoders made administering medicine straightforward on Star Trek. Now there's actually an Xprize contest to design the best one.
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Video Conference
  Seeing the facial expressions of your Romulan foes is good. Adding Spock ears to yourself during a Google video call is even better.
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 Replicator.jpg
Replicators
  While we can't quite make Klingon Bloodwine yet, or any organic material with just the push of a button, a cute plastic bunny is still pretty awesome. 
 3D_Printer.jpg
 Uhura.jpeg
Wireless Earpiece
 Not only was Uhura the first to use a bluetooth, it was also able to translate. We've got the bluetooth part down and the instant translation is getting better every day. 
 Bluetooth.jpg
 Mr._Data.jpg
Machine Learning
  It was always fun to watch Mr. Data learn how humans worked in each episode on TNG. While existing machine learning technology like Watson isn't as advanced as Lt. Data, it can still kick Ken Jennings's butt at Jeopardy.  
 Watson-256282-edited.jpg
 Holodeck.jpg
Holodecks
  Star Trek's Holodecks provided the ultimate in immersive experience, literally creating a world around you. Thanks to new technology from Oculus and others, we're able to do the same without the big black room.
 VR2.jpeg
 
And The Ones We're Going To Be Waiting A While For...
 
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Transporters
  "Beam me up Scotty" was the phrase that launched a million techno dreams. Instantly transporting objects and people hundreds of miles with the push of a button is a goal that would save trillions annually (along with making some people very rich). Up to this point, however, our teleportation efforts have only gotten us as far as 62 miles... and it was only the size of a quantum particle.    
Tractor Beams
  Capturing and then pulling in something with a beam of light was amazing to see on Star Trek, and again, real life tractor beams could have millions of applications. But, again, up to this point we've only been able to something the size of a particle no more than a centimeter
Tractor_Beam.jpg 
Warp_Speed.jpg
Warp Drive
Achieving the speed of light, so far, is only something light has been able to do, and warp drive is actually faster than the speed of light. Considering Einstein's Theory of Relativity precludes things traveling at the speed of light, when Captain Picard gives the order to "Engage", all we can do is dream. 

 

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