Top 5 Real-Life Star Trek Gadgets

To boldly go where no tech has gone before

Whether it was the original series, The Next Generation, or Star Trek Into Darkness, many of us look to the stars and hope that Scotty will beam us up into an adventure. What if we could transport ourselves across vast distances?

Orion Labs Co-Founder and CTO Greg Albrecht holding up original ComBadges (on loan from ModCloth founders Susan and Eric Koger)

Like few other sci-fi franchises, Star Trek has predicted the rise and adoption of many technologies that we now take for granted. Voice-activated computers, anyone? To celebrate the release of Star Trek Beyond, we put our forehead ridges together to come up with the definitive list of the greatest, real-life Star Trek gadgets.


5. Universal Translator

Who doesn’t want to understand every language out in the vastness of space, from Klingon to High Orion to Andorii? Today, Google Translate can translate many languages across the globe whether you’re typing, reading a menu or hearing it directly from a native. For those of us who want to keep our hands free for a Vulcan salute, check out Pilot from Waverly Labs, an in-ear translator. (While we’re on the subject, Uhura’s wireless earpiece is just like our own Bluetooth headsets.)


4. PADDs

The power of desktop in the palm of your hand. And no, we’re not talking about Palm Pilots. Star Trek’s Personal Access Display Device foreshadowed today’s tablet computers. With only a few buttons and a touchscreen display, today’s tablets and e-readers can perform complex tasks or hold your favorite books – perfect for sitting by the holodeck pool, digesting all of that wriggling gagh.


3. The Voice of the Ship’s Computer

Whether announcing the latest disaster or locating an errant crewmember, the Enterprise’s voice-activated computer was central to the series. In regards to this Star Trek tech, the future is now when it comes to voice interfaces. Whether it’s Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, we can now ask our computers to schedule meetings, send emails or write out our own captain’s log.

“Computer, locate Captain Picard.” Through GPS and wireless data, we can now tell a person’s location within a few feet. Whether locating Enterprise personnel or grand-mom in Europe, we can quickly find our friends and families through global-positioning devices.


2. Replicators

This is one of our all-time favorite things: imagine having pizza, beer and your favorite Netflix PADD appear out of thin air! The maker movement has brought the 3D printer into the limelight, with people printing everything from plastic figurines to prosthetic legs. As printers evolve, we can expect to see even more uses, from tailored clothing to meals.

In fact, everyone remembers Captain Picard’s favorite beverage: “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” What many don’t realize is that 3D printers can “print” food, much like the galley replicators on-board Enterprise. Natural Machines is rolling out Foodini, a food replicator that can make pizza, burgers and sweets.


1. Star Trek Communicator Badges

By far the coolest (and yes, we’re a bit biased) device on our list is Onyx by Orion Labs. With a tap of a badge, Onyx connects you to whomever you want – your mom or your entire group of friends. Like a communicator, Onyx clips to your lapel, collar or breast pocket. It’s lightweight, customizable and can go anywhere – from the deserts of Vulcan to the nearby jungle gym.

Many are hailing Onyx as a real life Star Trek communicator. Pre-order your own pair here so you can have Scotty beam you up, or at least your spouse in their SUV.


What are your favorite Star Trek gadgets? Did we miss out by not including phasers, cloaking devices or hyposprays? Let us know by tweeting @OrionLabs or posting on our Facebook. Live long and prosper!