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Photos: Life imitates Star Trek

The devices used by Capt. Kirk and his crew seemed so futuristic at one time. But reality has caught up to fiction.
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1 of 6 Andy Smith/ZDNet

The Communicator

Fans of Star Trek in the 1960s were dying for the show's future to become real. Apparently many of today's engineers and designers felt the same way. Forty years later, a trip through an electronics store turns up a surprising amount of Trek-inspired gear. Is life imitating Star Trek or was Gene Roddenberry's creation oddly prescient? CNET went to the set of "Star Trek: New Voyages" to get an up-close comparison. Take a look and decide for yourself.

The Motorola Razr (top) is a perfect example. You can carry it on a belt or in a pocket, flip it open and talk wirelessly with people far, far away.

It works an awful lot like Kirk's Communicator.

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2 of 6 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Phasers

On Star Trek, a phaser (left) could stun life forms or kill and vaporize them, depending on the setting.

Last year, the U.S. Air Force released information about and this photo of a PHaSR, or Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response system. It is a prototype laser weapon that generates light capable of temporarily impairing a person's vision. The prototype is obviously much larger than the Star Trek version, but the concept is there. And don't forget the Taser.

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3 of 6 Andy Smith/ZDNet

HypoSpray

Dr. McCoy's amazing HypoSpray (right) used no needle to inject medicine. A needle? That would be barbaric, Jim. Most children getting vaccinations agree.

Similar needleless devices exist now, including this one from SonoPrep, though the vast majority of children still have to face the needle.

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4 of 6 Andy Smith/ZDNet

The big screen

Kirk often asked his crew for an image of the pursuing Klingon ship to appear on a huge screen (right), 20 times as large as any TV of the 1960s.

Today, just about anyone can catch a show on a huge screen.

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5 of 6 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Captain's chair

Every Star Trek fan has wanted to sit in the captain's chair (right).

These days a few hundred bucks can get you the Sound Rocker, which lets you take command of your home-theater game system. Hey, if you're playing the right game, you can actually command the U.S.S. Enterprise from there.

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6 of 6 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Tricorder

Here's a direct example of life imitating art. The Mark 1 TR-107 tricorder from Vital Technologies (top) was unveiled in 1996 as a real scientific device. It could monitor electromagnetic fields, weather, color and light. The company apparently made 10,000 of them before going out of business.

Vital's product was modeled on the tricorders used in the Star Trek series (below).

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