Who Were the First Technology Consultants? Yep – The Writers of Star Trek.
It’s hard to write what the future will be like, especially when we arrive at the “future” year, and the technological advancements don’t exactly mesh-up to reality. One genre’s writers who seem to be getting it right on a fairly consistent basis is Star Trek. Granted, Captain James T. Kirk isn’t even slated to be born for another 217 years, and Captain Picard doesn’t take the helm of the USS Enterprise-D for another 347 years. Even so far into our distant future, we’re already beginning to see some of the incredible advances from The Original Series and The Next Generation taking shape today. All of which, our first technology consultants — the Star Trek writers — thought up decades ago. Clearly, their creativity has influenced multiple generations of innovators. Here are examples of just a few.
Long before they were commonplace in households and the workplace, Star Trek writers thought up a small pad-like device with a touch screen that linked directly to a mainframe database, allowing the user to reference any data they needed at the time. We already have them! And ironically, the Star Trek writers dubbed them “PADDs” two decades before Apple did the same. Thanks, Star Trek technology consultants!
2. Onscreen Viewer
Even as far back as the mid-1960’s, writers dreamed of having audio and visual conversations with others thousands of miles away just by looking at and talking to a screen on the wall. Yet another innovation we currently enjoy in our current time. While we are currently limited to using webcams and can’t yet really make proper eye contact, there are projects in the works to orient the camera behind the viewscreen, making eye contact a possible reality in our near future.
3. Badge Communicators
In The Next Generation, handheld communication devices (which were originally devised for The Original Series) were eliminated in favor of the personal communication device built into the Starfleet badge. With just a tap, anyone on board the ship or on the away team could instantly communicate with others. In fact, the technology is already being used in some businesses in order to cut-down on missed internal phone calls and company-wide loudspeaker announcements.
4. Voice Command
The Star Trek writers really hit some gold mines with their technology predictions. One of the biggest predictions is computers accepting voice command rather than typed input. Nowadays, there are several applications accepting voice command. Speaking requests to a computer increases expediency and cuts down on administrative work. Now, if we can only figure out how to get Majel Barrett’s voice into one of these computers, Trekkies everywhere will rejoice!
5. The Transporter
This article wouldn’t be complete without listing a technological wonder thought-up by Star Trek writers that we still do not have, but is currently being worked on. One of the biggest we’re waiting on is the transporter. Imagine saying “Energize,” and being sent cities, states, even planets away — in an instant. We can’t do that yet, but transporters do already exist in their infancy stages. The Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany has devised a transporter that can scan a non-living object, reproduce the object exactly in a different location, and absorb the original. Granted, that’s leaps and bounds from a person being “beamed” miles away, but we have to wonder: would we even have this technology now if it weren’t for Star Trek? We think not.