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Star Trek technology still hot after 45 years (images)

The 20th century Earthlings who first tuned into the "Star Trek" television series 45 years ago would certainly be amazed at how much science fiction is now science fact.
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1 of 27 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

It was 45 years ago when the world first learned of the "treknology" that would be available in the 23rd century. But those 20th century Earthlings who first tuned into the "Star Trek" television series would certainly be amazed at how much science fiction is now science fact.

Here's our orignal post from 2009 that's been updated here with some even newer treknologies.

Google has a new feature that lets you talk and translate languages with Chome. Sounds like a universal translator to me. And what about all those stirring speeches. We could certainly use more today, according to Dennis Howlett.

The Star Trek franchise and ZDNet are both owned by CBS.

Credit: Paramount/CBS

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2 of 27 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Cloaking devices already? Just this week BAE Systems shows off its latest tank camoflage which even works better than shown above.

Credit: BAE Systems

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3 of 27 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Remember, Dr. McCoy's amazing HypoSpray used no needle to inject medicine. "A needle? That would be barbaric, Jim."

This Jet Injector Gun from the 1980s is an air-powered medical injector device. It was routinely used to immunize U.S. servicemen.

Photo by user:geni

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4 of 27 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Now, the question is: Did the Federation base their PADD tablets on Apple's iPad design or did they just buy Apple iPad 54s.

Credit: Paramount/CBS

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5 of 27 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Remember Star Trek 2 when Spock's body was launched in a photon torpedo case? You can buy a Star Trek cremation casket from Eternal Image for $1,374. This one is Klingon.

Credit: Eternal Image

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The Enterprise had its supercomputer that played 3D chess with Mr. Spock. IBM's Watson supercomputer plays Jeopardy.

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Video conferencing occured well before its time on Earth.

Credit: Paramount/CBS

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Wall-mounted flat screens were seen in the earliest episodes of Star Trek.

Credit: Paramount/CBS

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The ide of flat screens has certainly caught on. Here's a 150-inch model from Panasonic.

Credit: Erica Ogg

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10 of 27 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

We don't quite have holodecks yet. But 3D technology in movies and television is a start.

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

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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Sliding doors, an idea from Star Trek, were actually operated by ropes. Now, if today's doors only went "fschhht."

Credit: Paramount/CBS

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Star Trek had tractor beams that could move starships. All we've come up with, so far, are optical tweezers which are a highly beam of light capable of holding microscopic particles stable in three dimensions.

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14 of 27 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Sickbay on the Enterprise was filled with all kinds of medical wonders including a medical diagnostic bed which has been the envy of today's medical professionals. SmartPlanet's Janet Fang writes about a £1 million (about $1.6m) medical suite at the University of Leicester in the UK which is used to diagnose hospital patients, sci-fi style.

“Dr. McCoy in Star Trek had a tricorder that he waved over the patients to help diagnose diseases,” says Paul Monks, who helped develop the facility. “The stage we’re at is the medical bed in the sci-fi series, which it tells you how well you are.”

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An early flip phone certainly resembles Star Trek's communicator.

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When Star Trek first aired in 1965, floppy disks hadn't even been invented.

Credit: Paramount/CBS

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Physicist and physical cosmologist Stephen Hawking is able to utilize technology inspired by Star Trek to battle a motor neuron disease that is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gerhig's Disease. Although he has been unable to speak himself since 1985 he can communicate with a computer generated voice, work on a specially made computer and navigate on a motorized wheel chair.

Hawking even had a role in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Here he receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2009.

Credit: White House

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Star Trek had tricorders to examine your body, we've got full-body scanners too - at every airport. Although they are a little larger.

Credit: DOT

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Here's the control panel on Capt. Kirk's chair. Did that replace the clicker?

Credit: Nicole Bremer Nash for TechRepublic

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Here are some of the handheld devices from Star Trek.

Credit: Nicole Bremer Nash, TechRepulic

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The brains at a place called the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland have already taken a step towards real teleportation. So far they've only transferred a quantum state between two atoms one meter apart, and with an accuracy of only 90 percent. But hey, it's a start.

Credit: Nicole Bremer Nash for TechRepublic

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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.

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Star Trek had its library computer. We've got Wikipedia.

Screenshot: Wikipedia

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LASIK surgery using focused low-wattage lasers to correct vision is now well on its way to making eye glasses and contact lenses obsolete. In the Star Trek series a woman was able to see with a gown of sensors and in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordie had his sight restored.

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Transparent aluminum may not be ready yet, but this transparent alumina is said to be 3 times stronger than steel.

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We're not there yet with humanoid looking, talking computers such as Data but NASA has developed early models, called Robonaut 2, with the long-term goal of creating their own Data.

Credit: NASA

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