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Star Trek Tech That Exists Today

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the where-are-my-self-sealing-stembolts dept.

Input Devices 207

Esther Schindler writes "When Star Trek hit the air waves, talking computers were just a pipe dream. While teleportation remains elusive, several once-fictional technologies are changing the way people live and work. Here are some ways in which we're approaching the gizmos that Star Trek demonstrated. Speech recognition? Check. Holodeck? Sort of. Replicator? Workin' on it."

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iPhone (3, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317133)

What about the white iPhone 4 [mrericsir.com] ?

Re:iPhone (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317273)

iPad FTW!

Re:iPhone (1)

Wingfat (911988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317491)

well the Pads used in Enders Game were more like an iPad then the ST Pads. In Enders Game the Pads had social media on them.. pretty sweet for an old book to have tech that we now use today. Not to mention the whole remote controlled War games.

Re:iPhone (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317541)

Endersgame was a bad book and very unrealistic. What were these insect alien things? What we how it's that shows scene? With the Spanish kid?

Re:iPhone (4, Interesting)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317583)

2001 A Space Odyssey: The "Newspad", in 1968. Heywood Floyd used one to download from major news media over the "ether" while on his way to the space station. In the movie, there are two of them on the Discovery and they look very similar to iPads.

Re:iPhone (1, Interesting)

Wingfat (911988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317711)

agreed :) +1 to you. i was going to mention 2001 as well. But they (and the ST ones) look more like a Toshiba Excite or Sony S1 than an iPad. (NO ONE IN THE FUTRUE USES WHITE PLASTIC, execpt for Storm Troopers and the imperial guard, then it is for cloths not gadgets. Everyone knows Space is dirty hehehe)

Re:iPhone (4, Funny)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317747)

Sounds more like they are ebook readers in the book.

And anyway, you shouldn't assume all tablets are iPads. They could very well have been Samsung tablets.

Re:iPhone (2)

Hunter Shoptaw (2655515) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319383)

What's the difference? Bazinga!

Re:iPhone (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318649)

Now I'm more interested in getting a version of the bot holding it!

Re:iPhone (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319129)

Now I'm more interested in getting a version of the bot holding it!

...you mean the Android holding it?

Not really... (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317141)

Most of the example are not really very much like Star Trek "tech" at all... And what's that Space Shuttle looking thing? Made out of powdered American cheese?

Re:Not really... (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317381)

But they leave off the ones that have actually been realized. Communicators the size of a lapel pin were wild conjecture at the time of the original series. Automatic doors were a new idea. I'm sure there are other examples of 'Star Trek Tech' that we completely and utterly take for granted today.

Re:Not really... (5, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317587)

But they leave off the ones that have actually been realized. Communicators the size of a lapel pin were wild conjecture at the time of the original series.

And these actually exist in real life. One of the hospitals in my home city uses a Vocera [vocera.com] communication system. You press your lapel button, say the name of the person you want to talk to, and it opens a fucking communication channel between the two of you.

People overlook the simple things. I thought the most impressive part of Iron Man was the AI. "Holy fuck, his computer is telling a joke when it's not helping him design a suborbital flight suit." "Now it's bringing up the files on everyone he's flying past?"

Re:Not really... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317717)

And these actually exist in real life

I see. So if you're in a building you can tap it and chat with someone on a spaceship in orbit, using no other infrastructure, even if they're not geosychronously over you. Cool.

Re:Not really... (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318139)

Actually, I could probably whip up something that would let you do that with a small add-on. I've built satellite communicators before.

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318575)

I see this is where we get retarded.

Yes, every one of us knows that nearly all of these technologies fall short somehow. Some more than others (I'm looking at you, 3d printers). Some of them don't really exist, despite the fact that we can do them, because we don't really have a use for them (lapel pin to orbit comms). But either way, right now we're just marvelling at how close they are, compared to when the shows were made.

Ubiquitous, borderline disposible tablets, connected to everything, wirelessly. Living room voice command (kinects and such). The mobile comms we do use every day. As someone pointed out, self-opening doors. Etc.

Re:Not really... (2)

the gnat (153162) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317999)

I thought the most impressive part of Iron Man was the AI.

Perhaps, but I thought it was much less far-fetched than those staples of sci-fi, the extraordinarily compact energy source and propulsion system, both of apparently unlimited power, which give off nearly no waste heat.

Re:Not really... (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318177)

I thought the same thing with Dr. Octopus. "Never mind his fusion flameball thing or whatever the fuck it is, he could get billions off the patents in the manipulator arms and the power source that he's running THOSE with. Hell, each of those is Nobel material on its own."

I know, shh, they're comic books.

Re:Not really... (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317607)

We've had automatic doors dating back to at least WWII, and I wouldn't be surprised if daVinci had designed some.

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317759)

Actually, they go back even farther than that [wikipedia.org] . (Although his probably wasn't actually built)

Re:Not really... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319559)

IMO powered door != automatic door.

Making a powered door is pretty easy once you have a usable power source.

Making an automatic door that is both safe and convenient is somewhat harder. Detecting a person is there is easy enough with current tech, determining whether they actually want the door opened is harder. Doors that open whenever someone walks past are annoying in most situations and if people have to press a button to operate the door then there isn't really much advantage over a manual door in most situations*.

* exceptions include massive doors which are a pain to operate by hand and train doors where it is useful for the gaurd to be able to close all the doors without having to walk all the way down the train.

Re:Not really... (4, Funny)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317765)

Hey, I played Tomb Raider, and I can definitely tell you the ancient Egyptians had automatic waist-height axes. Slap some doors on them, and you have automatic doors!

Teleportation remains elusive (1)

iBod (534920) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317147)

No shit

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317589)

Once we are able to build universal constructors/replicators, teleportation should be doable. It would basically be a scanning device that records every atom in your body, transmits that data to the receiver, reconstructs you and vaporizes the original. Whether it would be the same "you" or not is another question, but really it wouldn't matter. It would be you in all ways that count.

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (3, Insightful)

iBod (534920) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318071)

Once we are able to?

We would need to record the quantum state (spin, polarization, momentum, position) of every particle of matter in the thing being 'teleported' and then reproduce that state at the other end.

As we all know from Quantum Mechanics 101, it is impossible to to measure the state of a particle without affecting it (the Uncertainty principle).

Teleportation experiments to date have involved the reproduction of state between a particle pair (quantum entanglement). This is an impressive feat but the amount of information need to convey the particle states of say, a bacterium, and encode and transmit it to some notional receiver would take more time than the universe has existed for.

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318147)

Yes, once we are able to. It is not impossible, we just don't know how to do it yet. Most quantum theorists believe it can be done eventually.

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (1)

iBod (534920) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318205)

Most quantum theorists?

I hate to be a bore but could you provide a citation for that

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318281)

As we all know from Quantum Mechanics 101, it is impossible to to measure the state of a particle without affecting it (the Uncertainty principle).

This, however, does not preclude his argument. Your entire state is constantly being effected by interactions that reduce the quantum uncertainties of your constituent parts to actual certainty. The interactions, contrary to pop-sci, do not require a "mind" or an "observer" to take place. A scanner involved in creating a digital representation of your state is no different than a flash bulb on a camera. The camera flash also changes your state, but nobody is saying that the picture isnt a picture of you or that you are meaningfully different since the moment the light hit you.

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (1)

iBod (534920) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318321)

Ha ha ha! Nice try but no cigar!

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (1)

drfreak (303147) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318831)

The camera flash also changes your state, but nobody is saying that the picture isnt a picture of you or that you are meaningfully different since the moment the light hit you.

Oh really, then why do Native Americans traditionally hate having their picture taken because they believe it steals their soul? Maybe they were on to something... :)

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319061)

We would need to record the quantum state (spin, polarization, momentum, position) of every particle of matter in the thing being 'teleported' and then reproduce that state at the other end.

Only if you buy into the generally unsupported assertion by Roger Penrose that quantum state and uncertainty is a fundamental component of consciousness. If you use Occam's Razor to prefer the idea that consciousness arises from neuronal complexity, which is more consistent with comparisons of levels of consciousness in primates and animals, and with other aspects of cognitive and biological science, then there's not much reason to require identical quantum states in a copy, just rough relative position and chemical bonds. In a nerve (or other) cell with billions of molecules, it's very unlikely to matter whether the quantum spin and other quantum values of the shared electron in a particular covalent or ionic bond is up or down, as long as the bond exists. Most of the molecular machinery in the body may use quantum interactions, but do so to minimize quantum uncertainty and randomness: for example producing specific orientations on carbon chains in proteins or other organic molecules rather than the random orientation of an uncontrolled chemical reaction sequence. I believe that reactions which need the reactants to be in a particular quantum state would be very few and far between.

The only functional exception I can think of might be for magnetic senses such as in birds, sharks and migratory animals, which would effectively be based on magnetic spin. However it seems at likely that those senses would develop those capabilities through a more easily detectable and controllable summation effect at the atomic level via ferromagnetic ions, such that the aggregate effect also could be more easily reproduced in re-assembly.

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319371)

Well, one thing's for sure: build one and we'd know right away whether "souls" exist. Copying the state of running software by copying the hardware it's running on just seems wonky to me, though.

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317615)

Teleportation remains elusive

That's really neither here nor there

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (5, Funny)

iBod (534920) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318539)

Indeed.

When I was a kid I used to fantasize about a future where the would be teleportation booths on every street corner.

You'd walk in, pop some coins in the slot, dial your destination then whoooooooo.....

I live in the UK so the teleportation booths would be run by BT, Vodafone, O2 or possibly Virgin. I imagine that you could get an off-peak tariff to be able to teleport anywhere in the world after 6pm.

Trouble is, your head would arrive at the intended destination but your limbless and bloody torso would arrive somewhere in Cairo and your assorted arms and legs would be buffered indefinitely, only to ve lost for all time once they reboot their server.

Re:Teleportation remains elusive (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318917)

Indeed.

Trouble is, your head would arrive at the intended destination but your limbless and bloody torso would arrive somewhere in Cairo and your assorted arms and legs would be buffered indefinitely, only to ve lost for all time James Doohan had a Q and A session with the audience at the very first Star Trek con, held in Manhattan. I was a goofy teenager then, so I goofily asked Scotty , "When you transport people, what keeps them from materializing with maybe an arm sticking out of their stomach?". It got a laugh from everyone, and Mr. Doohan too. And he assured me that the computers safegaurd against such a thing. So, you can sleep well tonight knowing that. :-)

What was the TV show about this? (1)

flogger (524072) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317197)

There was a TV show about technology from star trek that is around today, cell phones, medical equipment, etc... Shatner did some of the narration, but I never knew the name of it and never spent more than a cursory look on google/imdb for it. What was this show? Where/when was it aired? Thanks.

Re:What was the TV show about this? (5, Informative)

clong83 (1468431) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317263)

I think you're looking for "How William Shatner Changed the World", hosted by William Shatner.

No, really, I think that's it.

Re:What was the TV show about this? (1)

flogger (524072) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317347)

Perfect. Thanks.

Re:What was the TV show about this? (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317359)

'Modern Marvels' has done a show on just about everything (up next, "Cheese Tech Part II" on Modern Marvels) so perhaps you're thinking of the Star Trek Tech [tv.com] episode?

Food Cubes (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317215)

Chicken Pot Noodle.

There's no chicken in it.

It's textured soy protein.

Much like food cubes.

'Scuse me, I think I hear a fly screaming...

It goes both ways. (5, Insightful)

aurashift (2037038) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317259)

This article made me think of all the technology that came before Star Trek. I'm not an old timer, but you had sliding doors and turbolifts (A.K.A. elevators) back before the sixties didn't you?

Re:It goes both ways. (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317367)

Can someone mod this guy up? Not sure why he has negative karma... I don't see anything in his posting history to suggest he's a troll.

If it makes you feel better, you can mod me down while you mod him up.

Re:It goes both ways. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318515)

Turbolifts are only very superficially like elevators.

They are more similar, I believe, to escalators in that they are always ready to board. When a person gets on a turbo lift and the door closes behind them, another person can board the turbo lift immediately afterward, and they can move in the same direction, or another one. They do not need to wait for the lift that the previous person took to arrive.

Turbo lifts are like an elevato

Re:It goes both ways. (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319161)

Turbolifts also move horizontally as well as vertically (I got the USS Enterprise plans as a birthday or Christmas gift in the 70's). They're actually closer in concept to a computer-controlled subway system using elevator-sized cars that can move individually, vertically, and horizontally. As you point out, the computer ensures that empty cars are always available for boarding by routing spare cars to replace occupied ones departing from stations. Since occupants don't appear to be affected by directional changes, the cars presumably have their own artificial gravity generator/inertial compensator, independent of the ones in the decks.

Re:It goes both ways. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319225)

The only significant technical problem that I can see with trying to make something like a turbolift actually work is if multiple cars are wanting to go to the same destination, and are arriving there at about the same time. If one particular spot is a popular dropoff zone at a particular time of day (say, the cafeteria near dinnertime), then a queue could end up getting created that could easily be just as bad (if not worse) than a normal single-car elevator system.

Pipe Dream (5, Insightful)

Beardydog (716221) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317287)

If by "pipe dream" you mean computers were synthesizing speech five years before Star Trek came out, then sure.

Re:Pipe Dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317603)

You are correct: from cracked.com

"The first speech recognition program was created by RCA labratories in the 1950's. It was capable of understanding ten syllables from one user. Many companies seem to use this model today. Progress was slow until the 1970s when DARPA decided to get involved. Enter the Speech Understanding Research program, better known as SUR.
Read more: Speech Recognition | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/funny-6186-speech-recognition/#ixzz26IMHOt6h"

--MyLongNickName

Re:Pipe Dream (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317685)

You think speech synthesis is the same thing as speech recognition. Turn in your geek card. Now

Re:Pipe Dream (1)

iBod (534920) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318427)

Where did he say that?

Turn in your Troll Card now.

Re:Pipe Dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41319613)

lern too reed.

If by "pipe dream" you mean computers were synthesizing speech five years before Star Trek came out, then sure.

You are correct:

Re:Pipe Dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317621)

yeah, because talking to a computer and having it answer you with relevant information is the same as early synthesized speech.

Nice link (1)

chebucto (992517) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317303)

Good to see a deep link to a non-commercial (at least, non-ad-revenue-based) website. The list provided was interesting, too; it covered some topics I didn't expect (3D printers as replicators? OK, sort of..), and skipped some of the worn out ones (ion drives, flip phones that look a bit like TOS communicators).

Re:Nice link (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318265)

The 3D printers are more like assemblers than replicators. The ST replicator can scan nearly anything you put into it and replicate it.

Re:Nice link (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318461)

Except gold-pressed latinum, and dilithium crystals.

Re:Nice link (1)

chebucto (992517) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318689)

The plot must have its devices.

(Still bugs me, though.. if gold-pressed latinum is so special, why couldn't you just replicate gold, replicate 'latinum', replicate a press, and have at it?)

Re:Nice link (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318819)

I thought the latinum was the part that couldn't be replicated, and the gold was just to make it look nice or something.

Re:Nice link (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319597)

Probably to make it corrosion resistant. Latinum may be volatile if exposed to air.

nothing like a holodeck (5, Informative)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317363)

Look, until we can whip matter up to our exact specifications, we can't rightly say anything we're doing is remotely similar to a "holodeck".

Sorry but fancy images on a 2D or pseudo-3D screen aren't what they're hopping about in TNG/DS9.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (4, Insightful)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317593)

What we're missing is force fields. I think that's how holodecks are supposed to work - holograms bordered by force fields.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318241)

What we're missing is force fields. I think that's how holodecks are supposed to work - holograms bordered by force fields.

It's supposed to be a "mix" of force fields, holographs, and actual energy to matter conversion, IIRC. Perhaps holographs/force fields to simulate distance and open spaces, with actual matter for the close up stuff. So a holographic person is like computer controlled meat-puppet.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319075)

I don't think they ever moved anything out of the holodeck, and when it lost power everything vanished. If there was actual energy to mater conversion, wouldn't the meat-puppets stay behind/could be moved out of the holodeck?

Re:nothing like a holodeck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318535)

The holodeck uses many technologies to get that experience:

The "walls" and other visual items were holoprojected on the walls.

Force fields and replicators were used for the tactile sensation. Safeties prevented these force fields from doing too much damage to a person, but can be disabled. Worf trained without safeties, and there is that scene from First Contact where Picard shoots a Borg with a Thompson submachine gun.

Replicators are basically 1-way transporters. Transporting, in the Star Trek sense is like someone below said: Matter gets scanned into short-term memory, then the receiving end assembles the object together then dematerializes the original. Replicators work by taking the stored, scanned "image" of food, tools, etc and assembles the pattern, without needing an original to copy off of.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319011)

So why didn't Star Fleet make like a thousand copies of Picard and have him captain a thousand Enterprises. The Borg would have been vanquished in just one 2 part episode. Just sayin'...

Re:nothing like a holodeck (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317625)

Look, until we can whip matter up to our exact specifications, we can't rightly say anything we're doing is remotely similar to a "holodeck".

A RealDoll and a 65" flatpanel? Close enough.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317727)

No, you guys over at Miramax have such a holodeck. You it back in 2001, when "Spy kids" came out.

Oh... maybe you don't work for the movie industry.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317877)

To be honest, the Holodeck is possibly the most advanced thing in the entire series, every single episode, even more so than that Guardian of Forever thing. (I just saw that episode today again)

The holodeck can seemingly create anything of any size that people can move around in.
It isn't "virtual" since we know they don't have tech to read minds of any useful levels that a holodeck would need, so it can't be creating a virtual interface for each person inside where they get their own little slice of VR while standing around.
The decks themselves can't be as big as the few times where they were in a small town and other examples where dimensions never held up to the shape of the rooms.
So the only alternative is generation of near infinite spaces. (as much as the ships energy allows)

Honestly, outside of some bastardization of self-correcting closed timelike curves bent over themselves and some sort of "bridge" in to it, essentially creating a little closed off universe which can be constructed with some sort of turbo-replicator, I cannot think of any way at all to explain how the holodecks work even in a ST universe.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318247)

if i remember the Star trek explanation in i think it was the Moriarty episode correctly it used a mix of forcefields holograms replicators and transporter technology. My bet is every one had something different projected at them and when moving used telaporters when they got to close to a wall, person or other such obsitcal.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318403)

So the only alternative is generation of near infinite spaces. (as much as the ships energy allows) Honestly, outside of some bastardization of self-correcting closed timelike curves bent over themselves and some sort of "bridge" in to it, essentially creating a little closed off universe which can be constructed with some sort of turbo-replicator

We have single displays today that can present different images to different sets of eyeballs. We have also played with projecting images directly onto the cornea. Lets assume starfleet has access to a much more mature version of the same technology. The computer now has full control over what you see.

As far as movement is concerned people have solved this problem with conveyor belt floors... as you get closer to the edge the edge moves back. In the startrek universe you can always use intertial dampeners... in the real world a much bigger room to better sell effects. A computer can easily deconflict the area with multiple participants roaming about.

Finally we have touch... all you need is a small piece of matter next to each person that can quickly change shape to simulate the environment they can reach out and touch..With high tech version of iron filings and magnetic fields you'll be climbing mountains on vulcan in no time.

I won't pretend to know if this is actually the way startrek holodecks are supposed to work my guess if you study the story you will eventually run into contradictions in the story line. I seem to remember someone saying holodeck is based on replicator technology.

Re:nothing like a holodeck (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318645)

If I recall the TNG Technical Manual properly, it was a combination of several technologies. Some kind of forcefields/tractor beams to provide the "treadmill" effect you talk of and to move matter around (that stuff that you touch and interact with), holograms (for scenery that you don't touch), and replicators (for making the simulacra that you touch, and any food that you meat eat in there).

Re:nothing like a holodeck (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318607)

Sorry, no. The holodecks aren't that advanced really, not compared to warp drive, teleportation, or especially the Guardian or Forever. The main thing they depend on is force fields, which, although fantastical, don't require FTL speeds like warp drive does and don't require you to figure out the quantum properties of all the atoms in your body like teleportation does, and doesn't involve time travel like the GoF.

The way the holodeck works is pretty simple: holograms (like we already have in some ways) are used so people see projected images. When they touch stuff, they're either touching some kind of synthesized matter (which doesn't have to be all that realistic, it just needs to feel real, although I guess if people eat something on the holodeck, they have to use the replicator technology for that), or maybe a forcefield. And for your problem of people spreading out in a holographic town over an area larger than the size of the holodeck, that's easy: the different people are partitioned so they're all seeing different images. Force fields are used so that, while people may think they're walking long distances inside the holodeck, they're really walking in place on "treadmills" made by forcefields. Forcefields can be used to provide the sensation of movement that you don't get on a modern treadmill.

Obviously forcefields are rather fantastical, but again, they're not as fantastical as those other things. This is why Star Trek shouldn't be considered a blueprint for the future; it's gotten the timelines on many possible technologies wrong. They show Kirk & Co. flying around at FTL speeds and shooting FTL energy weapons, and using teleporters, but having no idea what a holodeck is and having rather primitive computers. Really, the biggest problem with the ST universe in my mind is the teleporters. Those are the most "out there" from what I can tell, more so than the warp drive or anything else. Replicators aren't in the same league because they don't have to work at the atomic level, they just use already-existing materials and assemble them, like a 3D printer. And the whole reason they even invented transporters for the series was because of budget constraints; it would have been too expensive on their meager budget to use shuttlecraft for every single episode, as it costs a lot more to film those scenes, and that's why they so rarely showed the shuttlecraft. It was cheap to just make people stand on a pad, then flip to another scene with them standing on some outdoor set, with a cheap film effect to show "beaming". That's the real reason they used teleporters at all. My hunch is, if we ever start building FTL starships, we're going to be warping around the galaxy and enjoying holodecks for a LONG time before we invent teleporters, if we ever do. And instead of re-enacting historical scenes in these holodecks, we're mostly going to be using them for virtual sex.

Personal Waste Transporters (4, Funny)

ad454 (325846) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317429)

The Star Trek trek that I thought was the most futuristic was the Personal Waste Transporters that would automatically beam out solid, liquid, and gaseous human waste, plus dirt, oil, etc.; which eliminated the need for toilets, showers, etc. from Star Ships and Away Missions.

Strange that in Star Trek, they could beam away all of the bad stuff from their bodies, but would still need to eat and drink in traditional fashion.

Prior to the Waste Transporters, I don't want to even think about how rough Klingon toilet paper would have been, Vulcan deodorant which requires mental discipline to ignore orders, or the poor quality of a Ferengi tampons that fall apart.

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317497)

Strange that in Star Trek, they could beam away all of the bad stuff from their bodies, but would still need to eat and drink in traditional fashion.

Naah it was full of anachronisms where they loved to play musical instruments by hand to each other, I think there must be dozens of plays put on by the crew... Food is "fun" for the crew and cooking is even better... think Neelix on Voyager, much as we all try to block him from our memories.

Also about 90% of the holodeck episodes that were not about basically holopr0n involved travel into the past. That goofy car restoration project toward the end of voyager.

It was a generally backward thinking, backward looking mentality, despite the setting in the future.

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317571)

The Star Trek trek that I thought was the most futuristic was the Personal Waste Transporters that would automatically beam out solid, liquid, and gaseous human waste, plus dirt, oil, etc.; which eliminated the need for toilets, showers, etc. from Star Ships and Away Missions.

I don't think that's quite right. They just never showed bathroom use. Their Replicators would turn their waste (bio and non-bio) into whatever they wanted "via converting mass to energy to mass."

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317745)

The Star Trek trek that I thought was the most futuristic was the Personal Waste Transporters that would automatically beam out solid, liquid, and gaseous human waste, plus dirt, oil, etc.; which eliminated the need for toilets, showers, etc. from Star Ships and Away Missions.

Eh? TNG onwards had sonic showers, and there was a door to the bathroom right off the bridge of the Enterprise D.

Then again, Trek regressed in many ways. I mean, given how crews get thrown about and how panels explode, you'd think they'd have seatbelts or something to keep crews from flying about. and some sort of protection from things that overload so they don't explode in the face of the user.

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318701)

The whole panel exploding thing was always pretty stupid. There's no reason to have that much power running through a console that's only there to provide a user interface. How much power is running through your keyboard, mouse, or LCD monitor on your desk? I was disappointed they kept that silliness up in several TNG episodes.

I must have missed the bathroom on the bridge though, and I've been watching TNG episodes fairly regularly lately on Netflix. Where was that? It'd be nice if they had occasionally shown someone actually using a bathroom. I think the closest I've seen in the series is when they needed some of Dr. Pulaski's DNA and rifled through her drawers and found a hairbrush (and shouldn't that be in the bathroom, anyway, and not your dresser?).

You're definitely right about the seatbelts too. WTF is with that? They even thought of them too; one of the TOS movies showed the Excelsior class ships with some kind of leg clamps that folded down to hold people in their chairs if they thought the ride was going to turn bumpy, but then decades later in TNG they're gone and bodies are flying around the bridge again every time the ship encounters any turbulence.

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319073)

I may be wrong, but with artificial gravity, you don't get knocked around in space like that. Your ship is in zero gravity, when the ship is hit, the impact is negated since the ship has an independent gravity.

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319205)

I think that's incorrect. Whenever the ship accelerates or decelerates or gets hit by a photon torpedo or something, there's going to be a force applied to the ship, and to the things and people inside. Sure, if the ship isn't moving, there's zero-g, but the ship moves around a lot, changing its speed. And because of the enormous acceleration this ship must be capable of in order to get anywhere in a decent amount of time, it has to be far, far beyond the g-forces the human body can withstand (the humans would all be splats on the bulkheads whenever the ship leaves orbit). So Star Trek invented the "inertial damper", which is supposed to counteract this force, and greatly reduce the amount of accelerative force felt by the crew. Supposedly, when you see them getting thrown around, that's because there were forces that the inertial dampers weren't able to fully compensate for.

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318259)

In case you haven't noticed, people tend to enjoy eating and drinking in a traditional fashion. No amount of future technology will change that.

Re:Personal Waste Transporters (1)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319443)

Didn't the Ferengi have a contract with the US military in the 20th century? It would explain a lot of things.

More important: (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317437)

More important:

Tribbles
Romulan Ale and synthehol
Green skinned orion womens
Space Hippies
Hand held Hypo sprays full of tranquilizers (There are non-hand held ones available since the 70s)
Pesky GD "son of a chief medical officer" ensigns
Skin tight leotards as a women's businesswear. Microskirts as traditional women's businesswear.
Holodecks full of amorous versions of your female coworkers "I am the goddess of love" or whatever that line was.

Now that I think of it, you keep all that dilithium stuff and just provide the leotards and mini skirts.

Re:More important: (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317613)

Skin tight leotards as a women's businesswear.

On the west coast, yoga pants are considered business casual. There's probably a reason for that, but I don't care because... because yoga pants.

Re:More important: (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319415)

Yeah, apparently Vancouver BC recently got a poor rating from in some sort of fashionista worst-dressed list due to the preponderance of yoga pants in use around here. I kid you not. I just had to shake my head at that one. Not too many straight guys involved in making that decision. :-)

Re:More important: (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#41319417)

Oops. screwed up the link [straight.com]

Re:More important: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318199)

Holodecks full of amorous versions of your female coworkers "I am the goddess of love" or whatever that line was.

NO! HELL NO! You CLEARLY don't work where I do.

They missed the obvious (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317445)

Automatic sliding doors.

Re:They missed the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317597)

*whoosh*

Try reading the article!

Solar Sails (1)

Wingfat (911988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317463)

One of the Best ST Techs to see the "Day Light" hehehehe.

Some less obvious things (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317519)

The combination of the Internet and mobile devices have worked to bring us some things Star Trek could not have forseen very well.

How about instantly (text or voice) searching almost the entire corpus of human knowledge, from a hand sized device that you carry in your pocket. Instance access to the entire world's knowledge. Up to the moment sports, stock, weather, news, etc. And while we can complain about Wikipedia, it is generally very useful. Or try searching for a disease, or drug.

Instant video from around the globe.

Video chat in real time with anyone anywhere. Voice texts back and forth. Email. Twitter.

Star Trek failed to forsee Facebook Stalkers(tm).

Turn by turn navigation. (New to the iPhone!)

Tablets -- those are real now, and better than they were on Star Trek.

How about a 32 GB tiny SD card or USB sticks instead of those painted blocks of wood handed around on Star Trek? They called them "tapes". I don't think they could have really appreciated how much storage we have in something so tiny you can lose it in your pocket or fit inside a thimble.

Some of us have set up voice controlled home automation. Or more commonly home automation without voice control. It's not especially exotic technology. It is relatively affordable, but was but a dream in the 1960's. And remotes? They're everywhere.

On demand and streaming video? TiVos? Stream Netflix to your phone? eBooks?

The list goes on. It's not all things realized or envisioned in Star Trek. But the things we commonly have today, like a Raspberry Pi for $35 are things that were totally science fiction back in the 1960's, and some of it even in the 1980's. Even when ST:TNG was made, a $35 Raspberry Pi or an Android Phone or a 32 GB micro-SD card for $20 would have been much more than amazing.

When I was a kid, we had to use punched cards. And it was uphill both ways! Get off my lawn!

Re:Some less obvious things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317709)

Android Phone micro-SD

Is there such thing as a science horror genre?

Re:Some less obvious things (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318803)

You have some inaccuracies and red herrings here.

ST:TNG did foresee instant searching of the entire corpus of human knowledge. Didn't you notice all the times they just ask the computer to compile some list of a bunch of obscure facts (like "ships lost in this sector") and narrow it by various parameters? They show the ship's computer having all kinds of data many times on the show. The old series of course didn't do quite as well here, but I thought I remember some similar things with them asking the computer for analyses.

The can't have "instant video from around the globe" because they're not on Earth, and they have limited communications with Earth and the rest of the Federation. Star Trek never shows what life on Earth or the developed planets is like, only some glimpses of out-of-the-way frontier planets. They barely even talk about what life is like for someone outside Starfleet.

Star Trek didn't foresee Facebook stalkers for the same reason as the above: communications are limited. Plus, they're not showing the general population, they're only showing people who've signed up to join Starfleet and be crew on ships on dangerous missions in deep space.

TNG replaced the "tapes" with "isolinear optical chips", which aren't that different conceptually from USB drives, or perhaps hot-pluggable nonvolatile DDR.

On-demand and streaming video and Netflix again is a red herring because they're not on Earth, they're in deep space with limited communications. Maybe the crew is watching movies in their quarters from a collection available on the ship's computer, and we're not shown that for the same reason we're not shown them using the head.

Weak article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317657)

I've read a few attempts at comparing star trek with real life technology and this is the most shallow information poor attempt I have ever seen.

What I want to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41317679)

When are we going to get a device that lets us live an entire life in 25 minutes? That's some cool tech.

Missing from the Article: (4, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317703)

Communicators: DUH! Motorola even named the first Flip-phone the "Star Tac" -- how did the author miss this OBVIOUS one?

Bluetooth headsets: See those chrome things coming out of everyone's ears on TOS?

3.5" Floppies: Pretty much the EXACT same form factor, and painted as brightly as the "rainbow assortment" of disks I used to buy a Staples. They were called Tapes in TOS, but they fed into a slot and appeared to work exactly the same way.

A Space Vehicle named Enterprise : ok, this one is reaching a bit since that Shuttle never went into space, and this is a case of life imitating art, but still.... it's worth noting.

iPads -- tablets: TNG had the PADD, which tied into the LCARS system. Even before then Kirk in TOS was seen holding some kind of electronic clipboard, although it was never really shown on camera as the tech didn't exist back then to even fake a tablet, but the idea was clearly getting there.

Television (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#41317767)

Check!

Re:Television (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41319611)

large screen tv, viewscreen, whatever.

Things ST missed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318187)

Portable, hand held, distributed computing as opposed to a single, central large ship's computer.

Wireless data communication. TNG had tablets, but they had to hand deliver their reports and even leave the tablet there.

Having instant access to a massive global computer network, wirelessly and at anytime and anywhere (reasonably speaking, for most people) is something that seems to have been missed by a lot of sci-fi, not just ST.

If we knew then what we know today, when Kirk called up to get the results of some ships scan or analysis, or the coordinates of some energy source, Scotty would have told him that he could bloody well look it up himself and Bones would say that famous line, "Damn it, Jim. I'm a Doctor, not your secretary."

The article summarized (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#41318235)

Here's what amount to basically the entire article in far fewer words:

No, we don't have most of the tech. In fact we have very little. But here's some stuff we can handwave for page views. We can't show nekkid ladies, but "Star Trek" anything always gets page views.

come on ; try the digital clock..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318489)

The first time I ever saw a digital (albeit a mechanical one) was on star trek.

When Star Trek hit the air waves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318661)

talking computers were just a pipe dream

No, they weren't. If by "talking" you mean assembling sounds that sound like speech, well, just how ignorant of the history of technology are you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_synthesis [wikipedia.org]

Plenty of computerized speech tech by the late '60s.

If by "talking" you mean sentient AI, well, we still don't have that. Speech recognition? Not in any practical sense. It's just algorithms, not some sort of emergent property that actually "recognizes" speech.

Look, we're not going to get the physical tech of Star Trek, it's just sci-fi daydreams. There is no actual physics basis for the materials and energy sources. Yes antimatter. Fine. Now go find some, and store it, and do what they pretend to do on Star Trek. Not gonna happen, eh? Because it's a fairy tale.

But processing information, that we're getting good at. It doesn't require a lot of energy or magical materials.

Speech recognition (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41319241)

Eye am musing goggles on lines peach wreck cog ignition soft wear.

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