WHERE Star Trek leads, real-world technology has always followed.
So from the 1960s series we have the mobile phone for the communicator and doors that open on their own (although no warp drive or transporter yet), as well as advanced medical scanners.
From The Next Generation, 3D printers are already making replicators a near reality, for some items anyway.
And now the next piece of futuristic technology that has made the transition from the screen to the real world is ….? The Holodeck – of a sort.
In the show, the Holodeck uses holograms and forcefields to create completely realistic environments for characters to interact with, for training or just for fun. (The fun part does seem to be negated by the amount of times the safety protocols malfunction – at least once a series – but we’ll leave that for now.)
At Duke University in America, while forcefields are still a way off, the Duke Immersive Visual Environment or DIVE is recreating the Holodeck in the real world.
DIVE is a six-sided chamber, with a 10ft computer screen making up each of the walls, as well as the ceiling and floor.
A DIVE user wears special stereoscopic 3d glasses when they step inside the chamber, which allows them to see and interact with completely immersive images and landscapes that are projected onto the walls.
So far, medical students have used it to disect floating 3D brains, while images of snakes and spiders have been projected into the DIVE, to test people’s reactions to fear.
I bet at least one bright spark has created a 3D visualisation of a hot chicka too, thereby addressing the great omission from all the Star Trek holodeck episodes – holodeck porn!
As I said earlier, we’re not up to Next Generation levels yet, but all the same it is a fascinating use of technology and its development will only accelerate over time.
Immersive 3D Tv shows anyone? Doctors carrying out 3D operations, while robots do the real thing next door? Nobbing a nubile green alien while the rest of the DIVE development team are at lunch?
The possibilities are endless, but a word to the wise – make sure the safety protocols work, especially for the programme with the green babe.