The various Star Trek series have depicted and predicted many of our current generation's technologies. Which technologies depicted in any of the series: Original, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager have been realized to-date?

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    Similar question from another sci-fi franchise: Which 2015 technologies were correctly predicted by Back to the Future II?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 22:37
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    @Bitterfiction I miss 4:3 ratio monitors. I can't believe developers were convinced to go from 1200px monitors to "widescreen" ones that are only 1080px high. That's ten lines less that fits on the screen!
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 0:10
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    How is this question about real world technologies on topic?
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 9:39
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    Are you looking for things that originated with Star Trek, or merely things that didn't exist as practical technologies? I doubt you'll find anything that wasn't already found in sci-fi, scientific literature or even already engineered previously. People tend to severely underestimate how old some things are :)
    – Luaan
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 9:48
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    @user14111 - Futurism and writing falls into the heading of behind-the-scenes, I'd guess. Plus we've had other similar questions that are well received. Not everything needs to be entirely on-topic. Sometimes there are grey areas for 'things the community likes'.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 11:25

9 Answers 9


Cell phones

In 1966, the idea you could whip something out the size of a pack of cards and talk to people on it was wild beyond belief. Yet that's what the communicator did. And Kirk even got a flip phone! Mobile radios existed, but they were massive due to their poor batteries in that era. Nowadays we all tend to have a cell phone we can whip out and talk to people. Just not across subspace (yet).

Tablets/portable information devices

The Personal Access Display Device, or PADD, was capable of showing information in a portable format on a rather large screen. Even more impressive is it appears it was touch sensitive in TNG iterations. It looks a lot like a forerunner of the iPad that Apple made public in 2010. But it also preceded the iPod (portable music). Laptops weren't common in 1966 either, but those have come a long way as well.


We never see a PADD hooked to anything, so it clearly get its information from some wireless source. It was never talked about directly, however.

Bluetooth/paired devices

While this is technically a subset of WiFi, the Tricorder came with a handy sensor that functioned locally with its unit. It sounds a lot like devices we pair wirelessly today.

Tricorder with sensor

The Internet

TNG hit this one more than TOS did, but the idea you could transfer data over some network shared by multiple races (we often see the Enterprise D crew "requesting data" and getting it over subspace) was unheard of, even in the early 90s.


The idea that you could ask a computer a question, and get a coherent answer, was unheard of. Yet that's what Google perfected, taking the mountains of data on the Internet and making it searchable. Just remember not to talk to your mouse


I give you the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Nuff said.

Space Shuttle Enterprise

Seriously, tho, we now have a private shuttlecraft in operation.

Transparent Aluminum

Invented by Montgomery Scott Plexicorp the United States Air Force in 1986 2006, transparent aluminum is a real thing. Not quite what Mr Scott proposed in Star Trek IV, but it's close enough

Video Conferencing

Long before even the Internet, Star Trek was proposing video would be the preferred way of communication. Thanks to Covid-19, it's now a reality in 2020. Zoom chat, anyone? (Yes, video conferencing has been around longer than 2020).


We see this in TOS, where a simple voice recognition works to authenticate people. We also see retina scans, fingerprint scans and other ways for the computer to only do things for the right people.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Null
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 15:18

A couple of additional entries not mentioned so far:

Wireless Earbuds

Once again, it looks like the modern version is better:

Uhura wearing a wireless earbud at one of the ship's consoles A promotional image of a woman with an AirPod in her ear

Hull Plating/Shields

The United States Ford Class supercarrier has enough power to support Dynamic Armor. Dynamic Armor uses a strong electric field to disrupt the jet of ionized gas produced by a warhead.

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    I had no idea about the hull plating, that's awesome!
    – IronEagle
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 17:06
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    "it looks like the modern version is better" - in what sense? Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 7:38
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    Yes for "hull plating" but no for "shields", which in the Star Trek universe akin to (non-matter) force fields.
    – Lexible
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 17:48
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    @O.R.Mapper more discrete?
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 21:17
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    @Tim: Arguably, being visually discrete does not need to have a high priority for Uhura's device. She only wears it while at her bridge station, and it's probably useful for other bridge personnel to know whether or not she is wearing it in some situations. Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 22:59

And another...


Or, to be more specific, directed electrical shock weapons using, as the conducting medium, air ionised by laser (laser-induced plasma channel), aka electrolasers. As with the original hand phaser, they can be set to deliver incapacitating or lethal shocks, though the setting where the target freezes in place, glows red, then disappears we haven't yet managed.

The New Scientist article on them is titled "Set phasers to shock" and starts "Real life is catching up with Star Trek", so I don't think I'm alone in making the connection.


And another:


Mr. Atoz's library disks (TOS: "All Our Yesterdays") look almost exactly like a largish CD/DVD or smallish laserdisk.

A man looking at one of the library disks on a pedestal: it is a circular metal disk similar to a CD/DVD

  • A bit thicker, though. They look more like a hard drive platter. Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 0:37

Voice-computer interface. "Computer" on ST is now "Hey, Siri" (or similar).

Wearable computer interfaces: Combadges in ST, Apple Watch now.

Holodecks are being approached, to a small degree, with VR technology. Kinda depends on what you mean by technology being "realized." (Remember seeing a holodeck on TNG for the first time? Seems routine in the ST universe now, but it was mind blowing back in the day.)


It seems this hasn't been mentioned yet?

In 2012, MIT developed a needle-free drug injector, which is similar in function to the Star Trek hypospray


enter image description here


Universal translator

No one in Star Trek ever had trouble communicating between aliens from the other side of the galaxy.

With advances in both speech recognition and language translation, the ability to translate languages in real time is tech that is available now. Only remaining obstacle is just to miniaturize the device such that it can be implanted in our ears.

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    "Hold side botton"?
    – justhalf
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 12:26
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    Well, translation problems are a major issue in about twenty different episodes, but you're not wrong that they seem to work most of the time.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 16:29
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    @justhalf Translation is hard, yo
    – Machavity
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 16:39
  • "Hay una deliciosa taquería al otro lado de la calle" totally, completely sounds like something a Spanish speaker would say, and not what a machine translator would produce from the target English text. At all. mmm hmmm. Yep.
    – E.P.
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 15:29

News today at startrek.com The Wand Company have produced a "Fully Functional" Tricorder

Designed to work just like the fantasy version imagineered in the 1960s, with more than a little help from some 21st century technology, a full-colour LCD displays information stored in the Tricorder along with dynamic data gathered by its sensors and audio recording function.


enter image description here

  • This appears to in no way function like a tricorder.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 0:43
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    @Valorum "dynamic data gathered by its sensors and audio recording function" so there are at least two functions it implements. Obviously no one is claiming it can "scan for life signs" - you're overstating your case
    – Black
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 1:06
  • Basically it has the same functions as a cheap smartphone and they've shoved into in a plastic container that looks like a tricorder. I'm not sure whether that makes it a tricorder but this device is certainly doing nothing novel.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 1:08
  • @Valorum so your argument is that tricorder-like functionality was already introduced with smart phones; not that this device "in no way functions" like a tricorder. I still thought it was worth mentioning since the primary design aim was to mimic the tricorder in form and function as depicted in Star Trek
    – Black
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 1:16
  • Perhaps I was ungenerous. This device is a mockup of a tricorder and contains stuff that's been around for more than a decade and is in most everyone's pocket already
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 1:26

A little tenuous, but Scientists use the humble slime mould to map the universe's cosmic web has overtones of the Mycelial network from Discovery.

What do a single-celled slime mold and outer space have in common? Enough, it turns out, that researchers were able to use the behavior of the slime mold Physarum polycephalum to develop an algorithm to map the previously elusive cosmic web structure of the universe.

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