“Star Trek” has inspired technological advancement for more than five decades. Many of the technologies that were science fiction when they debuted on “Star Trek” are now available in real life, according to Popular Science. View screens, the ship’s computer, communicators, and PADDs all inspired video teleconferencing, virtual assistants, Bluetooth, wearable tech, and tablets in the Trekverse.
According to a TechRepublic feature, “Star Trek” inspired some of the top minds in tech research and development to pursue STEM careers. “Star Trek” helped them imagine what the future could be like, they said, a world where technology is seamlessly integrated into everyday life. They were inspired by the franchise to be the ones to bring these technologies to life. Two more “Star Trek” technologies are closer to becoming reality than ever before thanks to the hard work of tech geniuses like these. The holodecks were one of the most futuristic technologies in the Trekverse.
Holodecks were first introduced in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” allowing the Enterprise-D’s crew to experience anything they wanted through virtual reality. The crew members could interact with scenes and characters created by holographic images. These holograms, however, were not simply projected images. They were physically present. They were able to touch and be touched. They could interact physically as if they were individuals. These holograms looked exactly like the real thing. Some Star Trek characters, such as Commander William Riker and Captain Kathryn Janeway, had close relationships with these holograms. According to “Nature,” super realistic holographic projections have been around for a while and have been used for a variety of purposes. ” However, until recently, scientists had not figured out how these projections could provide users with a tactile experience. A group of scientists in Glasgow, Scotland, developed “aerohaptics,” a new technology that uses air movement to simulate the sensation of touching a hologram. Other scientists are working on different approaches to touchable holograms.
Ravinder Dahiya, one of the project’s researchers, wrote an article for The Conversation explaining how the technology works:
My colleagues and I working in the University of Glasgow’s bendable electronics and sensing technologies research group have now developed a system of holograms of people using “aerohaptics”, creating feelings of touch with jets of air. Those jets of air deliver a sensation of touch on people’s fingers, hands and wrists. In time, this could be developed to allow you to meet a virtual avatar of a colleague on the other side of the world and really feel their handshake. It could even be the first steps towards building something like a holodeck.
Other scientists are working on different approaches to touchable holograms. In May 2021, “Science Connected” published an article about a group of University of Bristol researchers who are using ultrasound waves to create touchable holograms.
While holodecks are still a long way off, touchable holograms are on their way! Of course, this technology will most likely not be available to the general public for a long time. However, it is a significant step toward a “Star Trek” future. Food Replicators
$ Gene Roddenberry, the creator of “Star Trek,” imagined a future without scarcity because replicators could create the resources that everyone needed to survive. Hunger, homelessness, and poverty were all eradicated in Roddenberry’s future, largely due to replicators. When the first 3D printer was created in the 1980s, the real world got its first pseudo replicator. Charles W. Hull, according to Sculpteo, one of the leading 3D printer manufacturers, invented the first 3D printer in 1986. By the early 1990s, the first home 3D printers were available, but they were too expensive for most people.
In the 2000s, 3D printers received a lot of press for their medical applications. A human kidney was created using a 3D printer, sparking visions of a future where people would never have to wait for new organs. The first 3D printed prosthetic limb was created soon after, promising to revolutionize the prosthetics field.
When the existing 3D printer patents expired in 2009, several companies, including Sculpteo, jumped into the market. As a result, prices plummeted, making 3D printers affordable to the general public. Though 3D printers are still too expensive for every home, the technology is heading in that direction.
One of the major goals of today’s 3D printing researchers is to replicate food. However, there are a number of roadblocks in the way of achieving that goal.
According to one researcher, current 3D printers are fully capable of printing food, but software and raw materials are in short supply. 3D printers require a program that tells them how to make the object they’re printing as well as the materials needed to make that object. Before 3D printers can be used in everyday life, scientists must perfect food replication programs and mass-produce the materials needed to print food. They’re getting close, but not quite there yet. Cooking is another stumbling block for “Star Trek”-style food replicators. A printer can create a food item with the right program and materials. A regular 3D printer, on the other hand, cannot cook the food. So, a chicken cutlet could be printed, but it would be raw.
However, a group of scientists may have devised a solution. A 3D printer was combined with a series of lasers by these researchers. The food is created using a 3D printer, and then cooked using a laser. The result is a cooked chicken cutlet that is ready to eat right out of the machine. In September of 2021, these scientists published their findings in the journal Science of Food. They’ve only cooked thin chicken cutlets printed with their special 3D printer so far.
They are hopeful, however, that this technology can be used to prepare a variety of meals. Food replicators could become as common as air fryers once this technology is perfected, though they will most likely be much more expensive.
Other technologies inspired by the Trekverse are being developed around the world, including phasers, ion propulsion, tractor beams, and even transporters. Many of the technologies of the fantastical 24th century could be a reality in the 21st century within decades. Follow the Heavy on Star Trek Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
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