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Star Trek technology still influential after over 50 years

The 20th century Earthlings who first tuned into the "Star Trek" television series in 1966 would certainly be amazed at how much science fiction is now science fact.
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1 of 25 Paramount/CBS

Universal Translator

It was over 50 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.

Microsoft now has the the ability, using cloud-enhanced intelligent agents, to translate English into into any number of languages, and back, on the fly, using Skype. That sounds like a universal translator to me.

Oh yeah, Klingon is supported. 

Season two of Star Trek: Discovery airs on CBS: All Access on Jan. 17. The Star Trek franchise and ZDNet are both owned by CBS.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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3 of 25 Paramount/CBS

PADD

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

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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4 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Quantum Supercomputer

The Enterprise had its supercomputer that played 3D chess with Mr. Spock. IBM's Q System One 20-qubit Quantum Computer is  "designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle." 

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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5 of 25 Paramount/CBS

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing and telepresence occurred well before its time on Earth.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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6 of 25 Paramount/CBS

Viewscreens

Wall-mounted flat screens were seen in the earliest episodes of Star Trek. Now they are even bigger! You gotta hand it to Samsung for moving the needle.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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7 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

219-inch Samsung TV

The idea of flat screens has certainly caught on. Here's a 219-inch model from Samsung, recently unveiled at CES 2019.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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8 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Holographic 3D Systems

We don't quite have holodecks yet. But 3D technology in movies and television is a start, and we may start to see holographic displays on smartphones soon.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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9 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Directed Energy Weapons

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

The Department of Defense (DoD), in collaboration with several universities and small companies, are developing a non-lethal laser weapon which can send voice commands or burn people's skin to repel targets over long distances.

Known as the Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser Systems (SCUPLS), the technology could be employed on small tactical vehicles and other platforms to be used in situations such as crowd control, according to David Law, chief scientist from the DoD's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.

SCUPLS Doesn't sound as cool as "Phaser" -- but, hey, still pretty neat.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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10 of 25 Paramount/CBS

Sliding Doors

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

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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11 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Tractor Beams

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.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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12 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Hypospray

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

The Pharmajet is the modern day equivalent. 

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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13 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Sickbay

Sickbay on the Enterprise was filled with all kinds of medical wonders, including a medical diagnostic bed that 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 that 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."

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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14 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Communicators

An early flip phone certainly resembles Star Trek's communicator. Now we're preparing to welcome foldable phones

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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15 of 25 Paramount/CBS

Disk Storage

When Star Trek first aired in 1966, floppy disks hadn't even been invented.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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16 of 25 White House

Remembering Stephen Hawking

Before his passing in March 2018, physicist and physical cosmologist Stephen Hawking was 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 had been unable to speak himself since 1985, he was able to communicate with a computer generated voice, work on a specially made computer and navigate on a motorized wheel chair.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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

Here, he is shown receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009.

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17 of 25 DOT

Body Scans

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

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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18 of 25 Nicole Bremer Nash for TechRepublic

Captain Kirk's original chair

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

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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19 of 25 Lisette M. Azar

Star Trek: Discovery Handheld Devices

Here are some of the handheld devices from Star Trek: Discovery.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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20 of 25 Nicole Bremer Nash for TechRepublic

Transporters

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.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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21 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Medical Tricorder

Here's a direct example of life imitating art. The DxtER, from Basil Leaf Laboratories, designed to resemble the Medical Tricorder diagnostic tool from Star Trek, can identify 34 illnesses, including diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and pneumonia, using a suite of Bluetooth sensors connected to a tablet. 

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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22 of 25 Wikipedia

Library Computer

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

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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23 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

LASIK

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, Geordi La Forge had his sight restored.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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24 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Transparent Aluminium

Transparent aluminum may not be ready yet, but ALON, or Aluminium oxynitride, a type of clear ceramic made by Surmet Corporation is the closest we're going to get for now.

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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25 of 25 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Androids

We're not there yet with humanoid looking, talking computers such as Data, but independent researchers, such as David Hanson, are coming along with creations like "Sophia."

Also: Star Trek: The technology won, but Roddenberry's visionary society lost

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