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Sci-Fi Handhelds Hardware

Star Trek's Design Influence On Palm, New Tech 418

Posted by simoniker
from the dust-puppies-and-tribbles dept.
kevcol writes "The San Francisco Chronicle has a fun article describing how many of the inventions of Star Trek have made early appearances, 2 centuries ahead of Captain Kirk's time. They talk with one of Palm's UI designers, who admits that '...my first sketches were influenced by the UI of the Enterprise bridge panels', and also notes: 'When we designed the first Treo... it had a form factor similar to the communicators in the original series. It had a speakerphone mode so you could stand there and talk into it like Capt. Kirk'."
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Star Trek's Design Influence On Palm, New Tech

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  • missed this one? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:12PM (#8572747) Homepage Journal

    What about the medical monitoring equipment McCoy had in his sick bay?

    It could track heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, etc. I don't think those devices existed before Star Trek hit the air. Granted we don't have the "no-contact" versions yet (and I stress "yet") but we still have a few hundred years to perfect it.
    • Re:missed this one? (Score:5, Informative)

      by djh101010 (656795) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:18PM (#8572813) Homepage Journal
      Temperature and heart rate should be easy - infrared pyrometers are used in industry to measure, with accuracy, the temperature of a surface, no reason it shouldn't work to point it at a person & get a number. Heart rate - several optical ways, no problem, or a directional microphone and appropraite sound processing - again, nothing too complicated.

      Blood pressure, though...since BP is measured by finding the two points where (1) the pressure in the cuff blocks all flow, and (2) the pressure in the cuff blocks no flow, I can't see an easy way to get that without actually blocking and unblocking said flow.

      Non-inavsive blood pressure systems work by "listening" to the pulse with a pressure transducer & working some fairly mundane math to get the numbers, but I just can't see a way to find out how much pressure it takes to occlude a blood vessel without...occluding that blood vessel.
      • by Lord Kano (13027)
        Temperature and heart rate should be easy - infrared pyrometers are used in industry to measure, with accuracy, the temperature of a surface, no reason it shouldn't work to point it at a person & get a number.

        I do believe that "core temp" is what is important.

        Sure the temperature under the tongue of the average healthy person will be 98.6 F, but who knows what the normal skin temp of the forehead of the average person is?

        LK
    • Re:missed this one? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dnahelix (598670)
      I remember reading about a device that uses sonar and radar to read heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and a few other things via a no contact scan. It was developed mainly for burn victims. The cost of tens of thousands of dollars per unit made it cost prohibitive for non necessary uses. I tried doing a quick search but didn't find anything (and I'm supposed to be working) Does any else know about this device?
  • Orgasmatron (Score:5, Funny)

    by meehawl (73285) <meehawl,spam&gmail,com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:13PM (#8572751) Homepage Journal
    I wish they'd work on some of the innovations in Woody Allen's scifi movie Sleeper. I want my own Orgasmatron!
  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:13PM (#8572753)
    When are those panels of randomly blinking lights going to make it on the market? I have been waiting some time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:13PM (#8572755)
    To live in a house without a bathroom.
  • by xot (663131) <fragiledeath@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:14PM (#8572769) Journal
    Palm probably has an easter egg which is a pre recorded message that says "Beam me up Scotty", a feature that capt kirk could have used in his days!! :-)
  • by detritus` (32392) * <awitzkeNO@SPAMwesayso.org> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:14PM (#8572772) Homepage Journal
    The needle-less shots McCoy would give for every little thing are not that far off either, DMSO is a popular one that's used for horses, but you wouldnt want that one used on yourself unless you love the taste/smell of dead fish...
    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:22PM (#8572852) Homepage Journal

      They already have units that blast the medicine/vaccine through the skin at high pressure. They're mainly used when they have to process a lot of people in a short time.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:50PM (#8574172) Journal
      Spray hypodermics predated the Star Trek series. McCoy's injector was based on them - though of course vastly improved. (Dial-a-drug, hand-held rather than big gun with compressor sidekick, etc.)

      The original discovery was made when a worker handled a high-pressure hydraulic hose with a pinhole leak, and reported to medical with a sore spot in his hand. The medic found a teaspoon or so of hydraulic fluid under the skin - but the worker hadn't felt it going in. Investigation quickly identified the leak and thus resulted in the discovery that a very small, very high-speed, jet of fluid will go subcutaneous or even intramusclular with minimal sensation.

      Somehow this info didn't get lost, but resulted in the bright idea of doing it deliberately to reduce the discomfort and increase the speed and convenience of injections - especially mass injections. The military funded development of the first devices (primarily because they have to innoculate thousands of troops in batches efficiently, and also so they could innoculate a civilian population rapidly in case of a biowar attack - this being during the "cold war".)
  • horrible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:16PM (#8572782) Journal
    The UI of star trek (at least TNG and onwards) has been horrible. A bunch of numbered buttons with lines going in virtually random directions to displays of other grouped buttons that don't seem to make any sense as to why they are grouped... They look pretty, but there is no way someone would lay out an interface like that and use it daily...

    Don't take my word for it, do some googling for actual set shots of the UI... it's upsettingly poorly designed.
    • Re:horrible (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DR SoB (749180) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:18PM (#8572812) Journal
      That's what they said when calculators, telephones, type-writers, etc. were invented. Maybe once you learn to use them they make sense?! i.e. the big red button on the top of the TV remote looks like it is random, but when you know it's the POWER button it seems to make more sense..

    • Re:horrible (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jhoger (519683) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:29PM (#8572934) Homepage
      On the contrary it seems a heck of a lot more functional than typical desktop GUIs...

      Every window opened full screen, important messages in large readable text, it has a very interactive feel. It gives the impression of an adaptable, efficient two dimensional interface for communicating with an embedded system. The Lines clearly delineate portions of the display of interest, the text is large enough to be seen and pressed with fingers, etc... they did put thought into the general look and feel and I think Okuda did a great job.

      But generally you should just think of them as props, they in general aren't meant to be looked at up close so don't be too "upset."
      • Re:horrible (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:42PM (#8573065) Homepage Journal
        That brings up an interesting thought. Perhaps if interfaces were designed to be intelligible on TV, they'd be more usable in reality, too.

        Think about it. People watching the show may not know anything about computers, but they still had to understand the occasional piece of information that was important to the plot. (One good example would be when Dr. Crusher was caught in her son's experimental warp bubble. She didn't know where she really was until she saw (and the viewer) saw a picture of the "nature of the universe" and recognized it as something she (and the viewer) saw on one of Wesley's screens in Engineering.

        That kind of driving force behind usability would probably be benificial to general use of computers.

        Personally, though, I prefer {NeXT|OPEN}Step, GTK, or QT.
      • Re:horrible (Score:5, Interesting)

        by neil.orourke (703459) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:11PM (#8573852)
        Here in Australia, our new combat "Collins" class subs had a user interfce designed by committee. It took 13 button presses to designate a target and launch a torpedo. The generals, when assessing this new sub, complained that the UI in a Playstation game to at most three clicks to designate a target and launce; why can't a multi-billion dollar sub work like that.

        The contractor then employed some game UI designers to rewrite the combat system.

        It's a true story! I don't have tome to search for the reports now, but it should be available on www.smh.com.au or www.theaustralian.com.au.
      • Re:horrible (Score:5, Informative)

        by MagicDude (727944) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:38PM (#8574076)
        From the Star Trek Technical Manual - Page 34

        We incorporated the concept of software-definable, task specific panel layout into our controls because Mike (Okuda) thought it a logical way of simplifying designs that would otherwise have been nightmarishly complex. The basic idea is that the panels automatically reconfigure themselves to suit the specific task at hand. A side benefit we discovered is this gave our actors much more freedom in hitting controls to accomplish various tasks. Even though out case tries to get things right, there are numerous occasions when a particular shot will require an actor to hit a button on a specific area of a panel, which may not reflect out original design for that panel. Variable layout control panels mean that the button that fires phasers this week is not necessarily the same button that fires them next week.
    • Re:horrible (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ciroknight (601098) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:30PM (#8572956)
      Think of modern keyboard layouts: qwerty doesnt make a damned bit of sense to someone who's never used a keyboard, and often causes people to "Peck type". But once you learn the system, you can type tens-hundreds of words per minute. It's all about learning and repetition. In fact, I actually see how some of the Enterprise-D's panels work, they actually make a lot of sense of the buttons you can read, and of what you can't read, most of the time it's voice control anyways, unless you're an android or acceptionally good at entering in long keyboard commands.

      Think of Palm Pilots language, then compare it to QWERTY.. you'll find that "a bunch of squigly lines not even laid out in the same direction" can be most useful...
      • Re:horrible (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wdavies (163941) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:44PM (#8573591) Homepage
        Also, it doesnt make much sense anyway. Apparently Qwerty was developed to avoid the actual typing heads from jamming when typing at speed. Allegedly. I dont have proof of this. AFAIK, this means keeping the frequently hit keys away from each other. Yes you can learn to type fast on it, but I'm pretty sure its not the most efficient layout when you dont have moving type heads. Dvorak developed a very efficient layout.

        Oh, ok found a reference [qwc.com]
        Winton
    • Re:horrible (Score:3, Interesting)

      by epiphani (254981)
      TNG's interface was far better than TOS. Those bridge panels are all all totally configurable to your choice. They arent static buttons - they're basically touchscreens.

      You know that little laptop-like thing that Picard keeps on his desk? Watch how he uses it sometime. There is one button on it - to turn it on. He turns it on, then just hits the screen. Also, pull out the TNG technical manual sometime. They accually put a disturbing amount of thought into the design of their UI.
    • Re:horrible (Score:5, Funny)

      by hellfire (86129) <`deviladv' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:51PM (#8573145) Homepage
      So exactly what function did you serve on the Enterprise D when you experienced this horrible UI? Helm? Security? Engineer? Perhaps you were even the captain having trouble working the ship?

      Or maybe you were just some shmuck trapped in a cargo hold who couldn't work the UI to get out so you were forced to just go along for this Crack-induced joy ride of a hallicination because after all it is only a friggin TV show!
      • Re:horrible (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dun Malg (230075)
        Or maybe you were just some shmuck trapped in a cargo hold who couldn't work the UI to get out so you were forced to just go along for this Crack-induced joy ride of a hallicination because after all it is only a friggin TV show!

        How DARE you call my TV friends a hallucination.

    • Re:horrible (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) <tim.bolbrockNO@SPAMverizon.net> on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:04PM (#8573261)
      It is.

      I took apart a keyboard to turn it into a "Star Trek" keyboard - no buttons, you just touched spots on plastic - which is basically what a keyboard is underneath the buttons.

      I didn't even get all the way and it was annoying as hell - it was quite responsive when you touched the right spot on the plastic, but when not staring at the keyboard there was no feedback - no feel of the buttons to tell you where your hands were located, since it was all a smooth plastic film, and you lost the tactile feedback from pushing the button and knowing it was pushed.

      Tim
    • Re:horrible (Score:3, Interesting)

      The UI of star trek (at least TNG and onwards) has been horrible.

      That can be said about actually every major science fiction flick or tv series. What's funny is about the same time when ST:TOS was on the air, Douglas Engelbart [virginia.edu] was already working on the real user interface for the 21st century computers - mouse, pointer, windows etc. In 1968, you could even attend The Mother Of All Demos [stanford.edu] to see the 21st century computing. Of course, the event passed virtually unnoticed and everybody was excited by famou
    • Don't take my word for it, do some googling for actual set shots of the UI... it's upsettingly poorly designed.

      It's upsettingly poor if you want to have friendly, discoverable user interface.

      I suspect rather it's a learned interface. Some 22nd century researcher computed the fastest, most error-proof interface and it has to be learned how to use.

      Think about it. "Mr. Worf, target the leftmost and rightmost ships' engines. Fire."

      Mr. Worf has about 2 seconds to input this into the computer. He can't
    • TrekUI (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MarcQuadra (129430) *
      IIRC the UI for TNG devices was at least part 'anticipatory'. If you were walking down the corridor saying to some chick that you'd like to see a play, but you forgot what was on tonight, you could basically walk up to the nearest console and hit the "I'm feeling lucky"[sic] button and it'd be right there. The computer was the benevolent 'big brother'.

      As for the actual UI, it really DIDN'T make sense, because if it did it would just feed the nitpickers, and Gene R. really wanted the focus of the show to be
  • The Holodeck.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Holodeck.


      "Lets build an entertainment facility that tries to destroy/take over the ship on an almost weekly basis."

      Good idea.
    • by StefanJ (88986) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:07PM (#8573287) Homepage Journal
      . . . that a full-featured Holodeck would be the *last* thing that Man ever invents?

      As someone else in the thread has noted, the Holodeck was a really problematical thing to add to the series.

      The fact that it figured in so many episodes is evidence of either a), that the producers don't find the idea of exploring new worlds all that interesting, or b) that they're unimaginative hacks who can't make space exploration interesting.

      The ultimate irony: The VERY FIRST Star Trek story, "The Cage" AKA "The Managerie," was about a decadent civilization whose people spent their time living out their fantasies via telepathic thought records.

      Stefan
  • Star Trek? (Score:3, Funny)

    by molafson (716807) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:17PM (#8572800)
    Star Trek? Screw that! Where's my flying car?
  • i hope (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:19PM (#8572817)
    no one gets inspired by the clothing though. I'm not quite ready to jump into tights yet.
  • Lapel phone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gunfighter (1944) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:19PM (#8572821) Homepage
    I always liked it when the Star Trek crew just brushed the emblem on their uniform and started talking.

  • by Limburgher (523006) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:19PM (#8572825) Homepage Journal
    I love that the last name of an astrophysicist mentioned in an article on Star Trek in Batchelor.

    How telling is THAT? :)

  • by Aerion (705544) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:24PM (#8572882)
    I wish that in real life that whenever you met a minor character, an unimportant and insignificant person, probably annoying and/or ignorant, you could be sure that they were going to die within the next 60 minutes. That would make life much more enjoyable!
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:25PM (#8572884) Homepage
    and found examples of the ``Okudagrams'' since popularized on Star Trek: The Next Generation and later shows.

    There're a fair number of programs using such an interface (even a couple of products licensed by Paramount such as ``Captain's Bridge'' a virtual tour of all the star ships), and even a project on Sourceforge to create a programming system and UI guide (look for LCARS, Library Computer Access and Retrieval System).

    I've found such programs fairly useful on my pen slate and amenable to use w/o a keyboard....

    Links:
    http://www.lcarscom.net/
    http://www.lca rs-terminal.net/
    http://www.bennisoft.com/
    http: //www.lcars-am.org/

    William
  • Science or Fiction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Un0r1g1nal (711750) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:27PM (#8572920)
    A lot of items that have been created owe their innitial conception to some far sighted sci-fi writer, I remember with fondness a lot of the early analog's (My dad has been getting them for years) and reading some of the things they thought of, that to them were impossibilities. Yet we are starting to realise some of their dreams and make them realities. How long before our dreams become realities also? It's not something we can really place a time limitation on, but as we progress in general we get through technilogical barriers, and then make huge leaps forward. The joys of innovation.

    And as a side note, lots of UI's appear difficult to use and understand, but if you understand them then it becomes easy. Take a look at the QWERTY keyboard for example. To a complete novice the keys are laid out in a random formation that does nothing to help them type. They want 'A' to be at the top and 'Z' to be at the bottom. But as they progress and learn about 'Home Keys' typing becomes a lot quicker and easier, just because a UI looks different, doesn't mean that with practice it wouldn't be a lot simpler and easier to use
    • by cmburns69 (169686)
      Don't forget that QWERTY was initially designed to slow down typists, due to the tendency of typewriters to jam if you typed too fast.
      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:42PM (#8574107) Homepage
        Informative? Try incorrect [earthlink.net]. From the linked text:
        For years, popular writers have accused Sholes of deliberately arranging his keyboard to slow down fast typists who would otherwise jam up his sluggish machine. In fact, his motives were just the opposite.

        When Sholes built his first model in 1868, the keys were arranged alphabetically in two rows. At the time, Milwaukee was a backwoods town. The crude machine shop tools available there could hardly produce a finely-honed instrument that worked with precision. Yes, the first typewriter was sluggish. Yes, it did clash and jam when someone tried to type with it. But Sholes was able to figure out a way around the problem simply by rearranging the letters. Looking inside his early machine, we can see how he did it.

        The first typewriter had its letters on the end of rods called "typebars." The typebars hung in a circle. The roller which held the paper sat over this circle, and when a key was pressed, a typebar would swing up to hit the paper from underneath. If two typebars were near each other in the circle, they would tend to clash into each other when typed in succession. So, Sholes figured he had to take the most common letter pairs such as "TH" and make sure their typebars hung at safe distances.

        He did this using a study of letter-pair frequency prepared by educator Amos Densmore, brother of James Densmore, who was Sholes' chief financial backer. The QWERTY keyboard itself was determined by the existing mechanical linkages of the typebars inside the machine to the keys on the outside. Sholes' solution did not eliminate the problem completely, but it was greatly reduced.

        The keyboard arrangement was considered important enough to be included on Sholes' patent granted in 1878 (see drawing), some years after the machine was into production. QWERTY's effect, by reducing those annoying clashes, was to speed up typing rather than slow it down. I csn't believe people still think Sholes crippled his layout to slow people down.

  • 3-d chess (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:29PM (#8572935) Homepage Journal
    Blame me for not knowing about if it existed before the Star Trek TOS, but looks like [cnn.com] Spock's favorite game is quite popular [3dchessfederation.com]
  • by bmidgley (148669) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:30PM (#8572957)
    I love how one start trek guy will hand his pda to another guy and say 'here's that report you asked for.'

    So not only do they not have email, there's like one crewmember who's really bad at reading reports he's given... so his inbox is full of other peoples' pdas.
    • by Cecil (37810)
      The idea being that PADDs are about as ubiquitous as paper or floppy disks or burned CDs are nowadays. It's supposed to be like handing around a floppy disk that happens to have a touchscreen on it. No big loss. In fact you probably don't care if it gets returned, or even expect it to get returned.

      It's a neat idea, and I would be surprised if it didn't happen in some form eventually.
    • They don't have computer networks either. I saw an episode of Voyager where Janeway gives an order, puts it into a PADD, gives it to a crewmember who then walks down into the bowels of the ship and gives the PADD to another crewmwmber who looks at the order and presses a few buttons. Cups and string would be more efficient.
    • by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@da[ ]et ['l.n' in gap]> on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:07PM (#8573284)
      The email system of the star trek universe was made unusable due to massive amounts of spam in the early 21st century. The majority of these spam messages were from a time traveller seeking out a dimensional warp generator.
    • by Chester K (145560) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:05PM (#8573799) Homepage
      I love how one start trek guy will hand his pda to another guy and say 'here's that report you asked for.' So not only do they not have email...

      Of course not. By the 24th century, there's so much spam in email that you pretty much have to give you entire computer to someone for them to notice your message!
  • by master_p (608214) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:31PM (#8572958)
    The impact of Star Trek has been great. Star Trek is the best pseudo-science fiction TV and movie series ever. Of course, it can not be compared to true science fiction literature, which contains 100s of future inventions and gadgets. But for TV, it is the first.

    Is anybody here old enough to share his/her impressions of the first Star Trek shown, back in '66 ? it would be like magic, back then. Today we consider cell phones, digital recording devices and palmtop computers as everyday reality, but back then, it must have been very jaw-dropping, to say the least.
    • by ktakki (64573) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:33PM (#8573512) Homepage Journal
      Is anybody here old enough to share his/her impressions of the first Star Trek shown, back in '66 ? it would be like magic, back then. Today we consider cell phones, digital recording devices and palmtop computers as everyday reality, but back then, it must have been very jaw-dropping, to say the least.

      I was six years old in '66, and I recall eagerly looking forward to ST's debut, to the point that I conned my parents into letting me stay up past my bedtime ("Mom, Dad said it was okay...", "Dad, Mom said it was okay...").

      A little background: I was pretty well aware of tech back then, having been to the '64-'65 Worlds' Fair [ucla.edu] two or three times over the previous years. And in '64, my father's company bought an IBM System 360 [wikipedia.org], a roomful of machines that was administered by men in starched white lab coats, so I had a good idea what a computer looked like.

      As for Trek tech, some things were impressive, some were underwhelming, even for a starry-eyed six-year-old. Transporters, phasers, and tricorders fell into the former category, while the viewscreen, the computer, and the various consoles on the bridge fell into the latter. I think they were underwhelming to me because I had the impression that running a starship would involve more in the way of dials, gauges, buttons, switches, etc. One of the things that fascinated me back then (and really still does) are pre-glass cockpit aircraft flight decks. I guess I expected something more like that. Instead, the bridge consoles looked like an orderly collection of gumdrops.

      The computer wasn't impressive to me because it was, in essence, a disembodied voice. I knew that somewhere in the ship was a room full of hulking grey or black boxes with rows of toggle switches and blinkenlights (the contemporary show Time Tunnel was more impressive in this respect), and I damn well wanted to see it. Maybe they did show it, but I don't recall any specifics or particular episodes. Seeing 2001 a few years later, I recall that one of my favorite parts was when Dave enters Hal's "core" and starts to pull out memory modules, little rectangular lights that I suppose were meant to be reminiscent of the Monolith. Symbolism aside, that scene was like a money shot for a tech-obsessed pre-teen like I was at the time.

      Same with the viewscreen: I'd seen a videophone demo at the World's Fair, and it just seemed like something we'd all have in our living rooms in a few years. One thing that bothered me even then were the displays that were arrayed around the bridge, above the stations and near the ceiling. They always seemed to show some random nebula or Spirograph-like pattern. It looked cheesy, even to a six-year-old kid.

      All in all, I had no doubt that I'd see some of these things in my lifetime. And why not? There were more jet planes flying overhead than propeller-driven craft (I lived near an airport back then). Televisions came in color now, skyscrapers were built with glass and steel instead of granite and stone, and it seemed like every other month there was another Gemini spacecraft being launched. They promised us flying cars and jet packs by the year 2000, and I had no doubt that they'd deliver.

      I hope this hasn't been too much of a Grampa Simpson-like ramble. Oh, did I mention how I used to tie an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time...?

      k.
  • Trek Trio (Score:5, Funny)

    by g0bshiTe (596213) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:33PM (#8572990)
    Yes, but.........the long pauses..........are not.......included.
    Mr. Spock..........moderate this post...........to TROLL.
  • by faust2097 (137829) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:34PM (#8572998)
    The ST:TNG computer interfaces are a great jumping-off point for a lot of designers. They were a good blend of rectangles and curved areas and they were funky without being over the top. In fact, one of the products I'm working on now has a slight similarity to it. The engineers all notice but for some reason none of the markeing people do.
  • by orthogonal (588627) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:34PM (#8573001) Journal
    It had a speakerphone mode so you could stand there and talk into it like Capt. Kirk.

    You...

    mean you...

    could... speak...

    into... it like...

    this?

    And call green...

    women to...

    see if they... would beam...

    up... for a...

    date?
  • by DavidBrown (177261) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:49PM (#8573118) Journal
    Seriously. I think I'd buy a new wireless phone in a heartbeat, if it was modeled after the classic trek communicator. I fail to understand why Paramount hasn't licensed this to Motorola yet.

  • by iamanatom (700380) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:53PM (#8573164)
    Presumably they mean the UI of Picard's Enterprise. Kirk's crew seemed to be able to accomplish their tasks with approx 6 toggle switches (unlit), 4 push buttons (lit or unlit) and a couple of flashing lights each. Either that's a very powerful context sensitive UI that's had a lot of work put in to it and which requires a lot of skill to learn how to use or.... they were actually doing chuff all. The exception is Spock's scope type thing. Lot's of swirly patterns that tell him all sorts of things. Only seems to have one knob though. I can't help making observations like these when watching the original series and they almost stop be enjoying it. I also start imagining trying to live my life with this kind of UI and break out in a cold sweat.
  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:59PM (#8573222) Homepage Journal
    ...that I recall, is shown in Forbidden Planet (1956) [imdb.com], used by a spaceship crew member looking for information on Dr. Morbius. Gene Roddenberry said he was inspired by this film, as this trivia page says.

    You can also see Robby, which is a robot that behaves like a tool without developing his own will and running out of control. Many newer sci-fi adventures are way less mature than this movie.
  • by DrugCheese (266151) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:02PM (#8573248)
    And how many Isaac Asimov ideas have been turned into everyday reality? Humanity writes it's own future in Science Fiction.

    How many science fiction books dealt with the grim future of a corperate controlled government?

  • uh oh (Score:3, Funny)

    by No. 24601 (657888) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:19PM (#8573410)
    They talk with one of Palm's UI designers, who admits that '...my first sketches were influenced by the UI of the Enterprise bridge panels'

    Wonderful... now Paramount will have an opportunity to cash in on the ubiquity of Star Trek once again - "time for some litigation boys!"

  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:25PM (#8573449)
    and there was a schematic for the communicator.
    It was a standard ch14 walkie-talkie schematic. I don't know how many people they had intended on being able to interpret the schematic but it was there back in the 1960's blueprints package I had.

    They weren't too far off from reality back 30+ years ago..

  • by Magus311X (5823) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:26PM (#8573454)
    Fortunately for us, Star Trek didn't influence Peter Jackson's take on Lord of the Rings!

    I mean... wtf is this [mac.com]? (quicktime required)

    ----- -----
  • by Tired and Emotional (750842) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:26PM (#8573978)
    Remember how Kirk would flip open his communicator one handed, say "one to beam up" and be transported back to the ship. Well there's something they will never invent - a folding cell phone with a reliable hinge.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:42PM (#8574104)
    Instead of trying to wrap he human being around the technology, the imagineers of Star Trek just guessed what the optimal machine-human interface would be: talking computers, palm size commnication and medical devices, etc. Where a device name did not exist, they just turned the verb-action into the name; scanner, transporter, etc. Hopefully the details of our technologies will disappear into the optimal machine-human interfaces also.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday March 15, 2004 @11:13PM (#8575226) Homepage Journal
    In the first pilot, Mr. Spock used a viewer in a meeting room to display what resembled a primitive PowerPoint presentation to the ship's executive officers.

    That is illogical. A Volcan would never invent such an emotion-tied and fact-poor presentation technique.
  • Very early UI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @01:11AM (#8575941) Homepage
    Many years ago, in 1972, I modelled a UI after the displays in "2001". This was a 24x80 text display on a TV showing the status of a mainframe computer. The upper half of the screen showed constantly updated status information. Ever few seconds, the lower half of the screen switched to a new screen, alternating between a memory map, a job list, status messages, and requested operator input. High priority messages would immediately preempt the lower half of the screen.

    This was a big hit. People would stand outside the glass computer room wall to watch. It was self-explanatory enough that people could follow it effectively.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:28AM (#8576343) Homepage
    The technology to make Star Trek:TOS and even ST:TNG a reality has existed for years (except for maybe antigravity).

    The only thing holding us back from going "where no man has gone before" is a lack of energy sources powerful enough and available enough to power all the cool gadgets indefinitely. And of course the engines, but that technology isn't even practical to start considering without the energy source.

    When you're 1 million miles from Earth, refueling would likely be a bit of a bitch.
  • by sharok (301384) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @05:22AM (#8576628) Homepage
    This gadget needs the Exploding Panel (c) technology to make it complete.
    Just think, somebody jostles you in the subway and POOF ! lights, sparks and burning wires.
    Great way to promote replacements too.
  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@go[ ]et ['t.n' in gap]> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @07:45AM (#8576946) Journal
    And soon the world will change faster than you can think... clearly the delta V for changes in tech is picking up serious speed. The prediction of each generation of forward thinkers and futurists, demonstrates that the curve towards advancement is dramatically steeper than anybody can imagine. In fact people are becoming the bottleneck in advancing technological growth. New tech is backing up in the labs, new discoveries are falling out of research centers like a monsoon rain. The limiting factor between discovery and product is the manufactruing cycle, the rate at which human beings can apply, engineer, construct and market a new technology. By the time that tech is ready to use, it's obsolete... the cycle takes to long, and the human beings involved suffer from crushing pressure to go faster and faster.

    We are only a hop skip and jump from fully automated manufacturing from discovery to home delivery. Once that happens... human beings are going to experience a world of liquid change, a flashing blur that can barely be grasped... that is until we begin to engineer ourselves.

    Then the real fun begins...

    Genda
  • by 87C751 (205250) <sdot@rant-central. c o m> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @08:16AM (#8577042) Homepage
    seems to be the design prototype for a bunch of Bluetooth headsets. It's just silly. The nift factor of obviously wearing a headset will wear off very quickly, and leave the BlueSpoon [nextlink.to] users just looking like ST geeks.

    OTOH, Jabra seems to have done it right [jabra.com].

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