The influence of Star Trek is undisputable. From promoting social changes to impacting the fundamental ways in which we tell our stories, Star Trek has affected the very fabric of our society. But nothing has been swayed by Star Trek like technology.
Science fiction has always influenced the development new tech. Some of the earliest documentation of this phenomena was H.G. Wells inspiring things like automatic doors, submarines, and rockets. Nevertheless, it is easily argued that nothing has shaped our modern technology than Star Trek. And in this its 50th year of existence (Happy Anniversary!!!), it seems only fitting to highlight the technology we have Star Trek to thank for.
The design classic flip phone has been confirmed to come from the Original Series communicators. Our current handheld computers we call phones today originated from those first mobile monsters. And many of the advances we take for granted now were inspired by technologies on the show.
While the idea of being able to instantly communicate with anyone, anywhere is not new nor exclusive to Star Trek, it is undoubtable a strong influence in things like Skype and Facetime. Subspace calls back to Starfleet headquarters and chats with the alien vessel on the view screen gave a clear vision of how the dream could become a reality.
Tablets & e-Readers
While in Trek they are called PADDs, the idea of using a handheld computer to read and write on is unmistakable.
Quicktime may have been a trailblazer in the ability to access multiple multimedia formats and content simultaneously, but the idea came from Star Trek.
The International Space Station
Because where the vision for collaborative space exploration needs so much explaining. Did you know in Star Trek: Enterprise, they show a CGI model of the Station being completed during the opening theme?
In attempt to have something like the Star Trek vast databases and interactive computer searches, search engines were made. Google executives have said, they were always trying to get a little bit closer to the famous talking Trek computers.
AIs & Natural Language Queries
With “artificial intelligences” like Google Now, Siri, and Alexa we’re actually pretty close to Computer.
Often marketed as real-life replicators, 3-D printers were obviously taken directly from Trek. While they don’t reassemble atoms to provide food and supplies, they can be used to make useful tools (and toys) and some even do print food.
Virtual Reality and Holodecks
Virtual reality tech and holodecks – sometimes called 3-D Visualization Centers here in reality – are immersive digital experiences and are clearly to recreate the pseudo-reality of Starfleet’s favorite pastime, the holodecks.
Otherwise known as the little goofy squares the crew members carried around to detect and analyze everything from environmental factors, and energy fluctuations to engineering malfunctions, and medical problems. For the most part they are too good to be true, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to devlop something that resembles these oh-so-useful tools.
We are working to make a truly effective UT (universal translator), bionic eyes – like Geordi LaForge’s visor -, teleporters, and warp-drive; just like what is found in Star Trek. And as long as Star Trek keeps getting made, and pushing the forefront of what we can conceive, it will keep inspiring people and laying the foundations for new technologies.