Star Trek for Real: 5 Trek Gadgets That Came True

By: Mike Tuttle - August 1, 2014

The television series Star Trek — now referred to by fans as The Original Series, or TOS — cast a vision for the future that has endured for almost 50 years now. Between TOS and the spinoffs that followed — The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and all the feature films based thereon — the world was treated to the notions of space travel at warp speed, dematerialization transportation, and even time travel.

Many of the fantastic notions from Star Trek are still firmly in the realm of science fiction. But there are some things that have found their way into our real world, right off the screen.

Padds

This is perhaps the easiest one to point out. The typical Star Trek “padd” was passed around with reports and other written communication. Now we have tablets and e-readers galore: Kindle, iPad, Android tablets, you name it.

Universal Translator

This is a bit different than it was envisioned by Roddenberry and gang, but we do have apps that can translate from one spoken language to another, acting as a translator. Examples include Voice Translate Pro and SayHi Translate.

Vocal Computer Interface

Majel Barrett’s familiar computer voice has become the stuff of Trek canon. The computers aboard the Enterprise and every other Federation Starship could accept voice commands, answer questions, and even off suggestions.

And now we have Siri. It can’t initiate a self-destruct sequence or help you program a holonovel, yet. But Siri and its non-Apple cousins are certainly pieces in a puzzle that we no doubt will put together one day.

Hypospray

Believe it or not, this one actually predates Star Trek. It is called a jet injector and was used for administering vaccines to the masses without the use of needles. Nowadays they are used for insulin and other applications.

Transparent Aluminum

When Scotty cavalierly violated what we would later call the “temporal Prime Directive” and handed a 20th-century engineer the formula for transparent aluminum in exchange for some Plexiglas thick enough to contain some whales and sea water, most people probably just chuckled. But not everybody.

Introducing ALON, a substance that is made much like a ceramic material, with aluminum, oxygen and nitrogen. The resultant material is clear, can be polished, and is used for armor, sandwiched with regular glass and polymer. It can stop a bullet.

Image via YouTube

Mike Tuttle

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Mike TuttleWriter. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.

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  • Alex

    Telecommunication is another technology that’s become reality. It’s used by online colleges and businesses worldwide.
    Cell phones and smartphones are other examples. All it takes is someone with a cell phone with a built-in camera and wireless internet access to broadcast what they see around the world.

    • Sternrulez

      I’m really surprised this wasn’t mentioned at all…I expected that to top the list! They did mention Siri however, but in my personal opinion they should institute a self destruct mechanism, as that would be the best thing to do to any crApple product…lol!

    • Jon Sills

      Cell phones aren’t a Trek technology; the flip-phone design *was* directly influenced by Star Trek communicators, but to *be* Trek communicators, you’d need to be able to call anyone at all without worrying about things like “coverage”.

      They are cool, however.

      • Southern Libertarian

        Uhm. sateliite phones can do exactly that, really..

  • Obeone Obeone

    Radio phones were in use for years before ST.

  • FairySac

    Pssst. . .

    I want to talk into my mouse. Computer? Hello, computer??

    • The Rabid One

      oh a keyboard… How quaint.

      • Sternrulez

        Funny that you mentioned ‘keyboard’…I’m dying to try one of those laser projection keyboards that put one on your desktop…your actual desktop, not your monitor… 😉

        • NCC-1701

          Problem being, in my opinion, is that you are likely to hit letters you don’t mean to. I imagine it would be a frustrating thing to use.

        • FairySac

          Brookstone sell the Bluetooth Laser Projection keyboard for about $100. It projects a keyboard on your desk, and works with your smartphone or laptop.

  • cltaylor

    Cell phones, 3-1/2″ diskettes, thermometers that can take your temperature by just placing them near your temple, … all of NASA Shuttle program,…..Broadband communication, Siri, …… There is so much more that could have been put on this list.

  • Gene Davis

    Holograms from next gen are now a reality after seeing Michael Jackson at the Billboard awards show Elvis will be back in the building in Vegas soon probably Sinatra too

  • NCC-1701

    I Love Star Trek. I believe it was Roddenberry’s positive outlook of our future that has so inspired people to enter the sciences and specifically invent ST technology. Can’t forget shopping doors that open upon approach. They Needed that on the set! If you ever see a bloopers reel, the guys that were supposed to open them didn’t always get it right. 😀

    • john

      I still want my flying car! Maybe not ST, but a staple of future predictions for years.

      • NCC-1701

        I’d say that would be “The Jetson’s” cartoon. I’d like one too.

      • FairySac

        The Terrafugia Transition flying car will be out by the end of the year. It costs $279K though.

        • John Dierking

          That is just saddening. I would like to see I cot no more than a fancy car, say $100 thousand

  • rcjteng

    the communicator. It is the original flip phone (original Star Trek series)