5 Real Life Star Trek Inventions

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For geeks growing up in the 1960s, 80s and 90s, a vision of the future has been provided by one very successful television franchise: Star Trek. And the future, it turns out, is coming sooner than even Trek‘s writers could have imagined. Here are some gizmos used on the Star Trek television shows that are now becoming real life gadgets.

Make it so: How the gadgets on board Starfleet ships 50 years ago inspired modern technology

Here are 5 Real Life Star Trek Inventions

1. Scanadu Scout

INSPIRED BY… Tricorder


SpocktricorderIn the show, Dr McCoy’s tricorder could scan a patient’s body and instantly diagnose a medical problem. The Qualcomm XPRIZE is a competition to develop a real-life version of this device. One contender is the Scanadu Scout, a tiny scanner that measures your heart rate, blood pressure, core body temperature and other vital signs. Simply holding the Scout to your forehead for ten seconds gives an indication of your health and alerts you to any problems via an accompanying app.

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2. 3D printer

INSPIRED BY… Replicator



“Tea, Earl Grey, hot,” said Captain Picard, and the replicator made the drink in a matter of seconds. These fictional devices were used to create meals and other objects on board Federation starships.

In reality, 3D printers are able to use different material ‘inks’ to create a huge variety of products, from clothes to spacecraft parts. An emerging use of this technology is to create 3D printed food, with printers like the Foodini able to produce ravioli, burgers, biscuits and more at the touch of a button.


3. Mobile Phone

INSPIRED BY… Communicator

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The Trek technology that’s had the biggest influence on reality is the communicator. Starfleet crewmembers used these devices to contact one another, and to transmit emergency signals when in trouble.


While working at Motorola in 1973, Martin Cooper developed the first personal mobile phone, and he later admitted that Captain Kirk’s communicator inspired his invention. Star Trek communicators were sometimes depicted as wrist devices or even worn as a badge, similar to real life wearable gadgets like the Apple Watch and the CommBadge.

4. Skype Translator

INSPIRED BY… Universal translator


When you’re boldly going where no man has gone before, it helps to understand what the locals are saying. Starfleet crews were given universal translators to seamlessly interpret alien languages.

Microsoft has developed Skype Translator to break down language barriers here on Earth. The program compares your speech to a database of audio snippets in order to compile a transcript. This text is then translated to the desired language and read out by an automated voice.

5. Tablets


The Personal Access Display Device (PADD) was a hand-held computer used by Starfleet crew. PADD_2370s (1)With their sleek design and touchscreen interfaces, these devices are strikingly similar to tablet computers such as the iPad. Tablets have become possible thanks to the miniaturisation of technology. As computer components have got smaller, it has become possible to fit laptop-level hardware into these convenient hand-held gadgets. Tablets’ touchscreen designs let users carry out commands with intuitive gestures, like pinch-to-zoom.

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Also Read: Things to know about 5G

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5 Real Life Star Trek Inventions

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