10 Comparisons Between Star Trek and Modern Technologies

For those of us who were around to watch the original Star Trek series on television, we remember thinking how cool it would be to have some of the great gadgets they used. The future is now! Many of their ‘futuristic’ ideas have become available in some form, since then.

  1. Communicators to cell phones – Flip open devices that allowed you to communicate with others from almost any location. Of course, there was the occasional atmospheric interference that cut off your connection to the other person. Lots of similarities in these two.
  2. PADDs to tablet computers – Personal access display devices were used in Star Trek: The Next Generation. They were flat panel touch screen devices that were used for a multitude of tasks and gaining access to all kinds of information. Although the PADDs were a bit undefined at the time, they have definite similarity to the ipad and other tablet computers.
  3. Ear piece headset to bluetooth technology – Wireless headsets were worn on the bridge of the Enterprise. They were small and attached to one ear. Bluetooth headsets are used in environments today that are not near as sophisticated as the star ship’s command deck.
  4. Portable data disks to floppy disks/data drives – Thin, small pieces of plastic were inserted into the computer consoles of the star ship, which were close in size to the 3-1/2 floppy disk. Today we have even smaller USB data drives for transporting data.
  5. Voice commands to voice commands – The ability to give verbal commands to electronics is a true reality today, even though it isn’t used as often as it was on Star Trek. Computers and many cell phones have the capability of being directed by voice command.
  6. Tricorder to modern thermometers – The tricorder could scan a person’s body and provide readings on a number of different things. There have been some similar devices created, but the closest one to be seen in many homes today is the modern digital ear thermometer. The thought of getting a temperature reading from an infant so easily was not even thought of by mothers during the first years of Star Trek.
  7. Transporter to GPS – No, we haven’t been able to ‘beam’ anyone up or down, but we can locate people just as specifically with a GPS as the transporter was able to lock into the location of people it was called on to retrieve.
  8. Diagnostic scan to CAT, MRI and ultrasound – Dr. McCoy could lay you on his diagnostic table and perform a scan of your body to come up with a diagnosis. We use several different scanning technologies for diagnosis today.
  9. Phasers to Tasers – In Star Trek, they pointed their phasers at the enemy and were able stun or disable them with a blast of energy. The reaction to being struck by a taser looks very similar to what you saw by those who had been hit by the beam of a phaser on the television show.
  10. Video Screen Communication to Skype – We may not talk to people on a screen quite the size of the one Captain Kirk used on the Enterprise, but we easily communicate from screen to screen using Skype. The big screens are used, though, for teleconference speaking, all the time.

No one guessed at the time that Star Trek first aired, just how fast some of those technologies would develop. We still aren’t traveling at ‘warp speed’, and we haven’t found the Vulcan’s with those pointed ears, but Spock could show up any day now.

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