Just in time for the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek: The Original Series,” ThinkGeek is now accepting pre-orders for a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Bluetooth-enabled combadge that wirelessly connects to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
The fully-functional device works just like the “real thing.” Tap the Starfleet insignia and you'll hear the classic chirp. You can then use it make handsfree calls or to activate voice-enabled apps. You can even talk to Siri and pretend that you’re talking to the Enterprise’s on-board computer (even though Siri sounds nothing like Majel Barrett).
While the replica combadge may seem like a gimmick and a neat little gadget to have, it is very much a confirmation of what “Star Trek” has envisioned since the television debut of the original series on this day in 1966. The fifty-year-old science fiction franchise has not only changed the way we consume pop culture, but has also influenced two generations of scientists, designers and engineers.
Today's smart phones are the real world descendants of “Star Trek’s” fictional communicators and tricorders. Our tablets are descended for the pads used by Captains Kirk and Picard. Even our touch screens are inspired by the LCARS interface of “Star Trek: The Next Generation’s” Enterprise D.
And who can deny the influence of the original Star Trek communicator, designed by Ming Chang as an improvement on the transparent version that appeared in the original pilot? Jonny Ive’s designs for the original iPhone and iPad clearly echo the black and silver aesthetics of the the 1960s prop.
But what about warp drive and transporter technology? NASA scientists are in the very early stages of developing an EM drive that defies the laws of physics, but there are still questions of whether the technology actually works. And while we’ve yet to transport a human being, teleportation is very real, but only at the subatomic level.
In some ways, the 23rd Century of the fictional "Star Trek" universe has come early. Let us hope that the optimism of Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future will continue to guide our science and technology and our way of life.
May we all live long and prosper.
You can pre-order the replica combadge and view its full specs here.