Devices on the bridge:

devices on the bridge

Now, compare them with barcode readers:

barcode readerenter image description here

They certainly look like barcode readers. What sort of devices are they (in-universe)? Any info on what the props are (out-of-universe)?

  • 86
    Lens flare generators.
    – Valorum
    Aug 1, 2016 at 0:30
  • 35
    They’re for reading barcodes. Aug 1, 2016 at 8:33
  • 7
    Reminds me of the 60's series Raumpatrouille, where they had to resort to many common household items to put together a space ship bridge :) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Boldewyn
    Aug 1, 2016 at 10:15
  • 25
    counter question, why are there hand phasers in my local tesco? Aug 1, 2016 at 11:00
  • 3
    @Valorum no talking rats, but the aliens where called "Frogs". (The german-speaking crew of the Orion having called them "Frösche", then deciding that sounded too normal, so starting to use the English translation: Frog)
    – Layna
    Aug 1, 2016 at 11:11

4 Answers 4


Out of Universe

Yep. Those are indeed barcode scanners. They were apparently purchased by Paramount Pictures from a company called BarcodesInc.

enter image description here

Image courtesy of www.Barcodesinc.com

  • 17
    While I've upvoted this (for frankly the awesome image find) I don't think it really answers the question... "Why did they use barcode scanners?"
    – Liath
    Aug 1, 2016 at 9:36
  • 12
    So, if not barcode scanners, what is their in-universe purpose?
    – kwah
    Aug 1, 2016 at 10:10
  • 9
    While interesting and factual, this does not answer the question of why they are there.
    – Trisped
    Aug 1, 2016 at 17:54
  • 6
    @Valorum the actual question is "Why are there barcode readers on the bridge of the Enterprise?". The other two are bonus questions, only one of which is addressed by this answer.
    – Trisped
    Aug 1, 2016 at 17:58
  • 3
    @Valorum I guess I was less clear then intended. I feel your answer does not answer the question asked and should be updated, even if the update only adds, "There is no information on what the scanners are for."
    – Trisped
    Aug 1, 2016 at 18:07

Valorum's answer explains what they are, but not the why.

Why are they used?

Because they're a cheap way to get a fairly high-tech looking prop that 99.99% of people will not realise are barcode scanners. It's far cheaper and faster to buy a bunch of $50 barcode scanners, than it is to build an equivalent number of light up props.

Barcode scanners suit a spaceship because they're interesting, unusual shapes that give off light and can look complicated and scientific.

In short, they make The Enterprise look spaceship-y very cheaply, using simple props that most people won't take a second glance at.


Their general appearance seems to be consistent with how phasers look in several of the later of the original Star Trek eras:

enter image description here

It is possible that these are just one of the reboot interpretations of the phasers found in earlier series.

They also appear somewhat consistent with other handheld scanner devices from the earlier series.

Note that there is no current in-universe explanation as to what these devices are used for, so for the moment, all that can really be done is speculation as to the purpose of the devices. Given their appearance of fitting well in a hand and having a forward-facing light element or photoreceptor, it's possible these are phasers or scanners.

  • 21
    I have some doubts that phasers would be propped up on elevated positions all over the bridge, and sometimes even two on a single workplace. Aug 1, 2016 at 18:29
  • 4
    If any hostiles reach the bridge, they and everyone else will have access to phasers. In most cases, that should mean a home team victory, because the crew will generally be both more numerous and closer to the phasers. I think the captain's station is the only one that obviously has two, which might make sense.
    – Grault
    Aug 1, 2016 at 18:57
  • 2
    Phasers in 'Beyond' and all other parts of the reboot have more of an actual pistol-shape instead of barcodescanner- or TV-remote-shape.
    – steenbergh
    Aug 2, 2016 at 11:11
  • @steenbergh Are you saying there is only one shape any device can have? Going by the iterations, these might be newer or older models of phasers that haven't quite been phased out yet (pun not intended).
    – Nzall
    Aug 2, 2016 at 11:14
  • 1
    @Nzall There are no phasers of this description depicted on-screen in the reboot series (2009, Darkness and Beyond), so I do't think there's reason to assume the barcode scanners represent phasers on the bridge.
    – steenbergh
    Aug 2, 2016 at 11:21

Let's have some in-universe fun of trying to explain them... In present day bar codes are being used to do things other than for sales. They're used for transmitting data for a whole bunch of things and for interacting in an AR environment. So, even though we have no proof of such things, it is possible that they are there for that purpose, so that if some AR thing comes onto the bridge you would want most of your crew to be able to get to a reader and use it.

Never seen it and hypothetically the entire bridge should have cameras filming the area already. Maybe they're just cameras?

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