Lets look to Star Trek

63f2811adf1a689eede0b4a719f51afc.jpgI wrote about the future of mobile tech yesterday in a negative way. Kirk has a different view-

Not sure I agree, at least in the context of phones. The “fondleslab” form factor introduced by the iPhone is so flexible, it moves the problem.

Lets look to Star Trek.

William Gibson left out cellphones from Neuromancer, because that kind of communicator sounded too “Captain Kirk”-ish. And now voice communication is the oldest, most boring, and generally reviled function our phones do.

So our phones have the communicator and even the tricorder. (Ok, its scanning is a little weak, but still- it does GPS, motion detection, video and audio…)

So the Star Trek next generation invented the “LCARS” display. Now in some ways that was just a cost saving measure, so they could easily and cheaply make up different operator consoles, but still; that’s what we have today with phones and ipads. Stuff appears on a virtual screen, reconfiguring itself as needed. Software and virtual screens have a much lower cost for innovation, and while there’s a small trend to make things tactile again (like Microsofts twisty knobs for artists) that’s where the innovation is. (Maybe haptic feedback is the next thing… I might be talking out the side of my neck here but what if focused audio waves could give push back somehow? Just a thought)

What else does Star Trek offer? The Holodeck. The Replicator. The Teleporter.

What do we have? VR/AR. 3D Printing. And uh… self driving cars I guess? All weak sauce versions of the TV versions. But, baby steps.

Much like Stereos in the 80s meant you could then think more about the music played (actually come to think of it it moved to formats – LP to tape to CD to MP3 to streaming) the innovation should be seen in apps, at least for now (though even there you’re up against people’s expectations of how a given app “should” work)

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2 replies

  1. Thanks for the elevation of a comment 😉 Just one footnote I’ll put here: later in the conversation I realized I left out another Star Trek Technology, still in a rough form: speech recognition and synthesis via computer.

    Actually we’re so close to what they had on Trek we can almost taste it, and yet the gap can be maddening. Whether giving orders or recording/stopping the recording of the captain’s log, the Enterprise’s computer understands context in a way Siri can only dream of (though she may be lagging her other real world peers)

    • Oh, and I just used another “functional prototype level” Star Trek technology to help with an article listed lower down – Google Translate vs the Universal Translator. (Though I don’t think such a device would be able to translate a newly-met language. And getting the lips to match up to the english spoken words is a whole different set of tricks.)

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