Star Trek Gadgets that are Real

For nerds growing up from the 60s to the 90s, an image of the future has been provided by a real truthful television show: Star Trek. And the future, it seems, is arriving sooner than even Trek’s writers could have anticipated. Here are some gadgets used on Star Trek that are now quite real.

Food Replicator

Capt. Picard used to shout “Earl Gray Tea, Hot!” and it would be reproduced instantaneously. Today’s 3D printers don’t do tea, but there are machineries that really can print food. And other printers, like the MakerBot Replicator 2 are very adept at creating small objects just as they were shown to do on later episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Universal Translator

In many episodes, we were in awe at the universal translator, which translated what aliens said in real-time. In later shows, it was incorporated into the communication badges (which clarifies why essentially everyone, regardless of home planet, conversed in English). Today, there’s an app for that. Voice Translator by TalirApps knows over 70 languages. You talk in your native tongue and the app converts your phrase into another language.

Tablet Computers

Lt. Commander Geordi Laforge, the dude from Reading Rainbow, used a tablet computer, what they termed a personal access data devices (PADDs), to put in coordinates for the next star system. Other Starfleet staffs used them to listen to music and watch videos like we use tablet computers for today.


In the TV show, a tricorder is a handheld tool that scans for, biological, meteorological, and geological abnormalities. It came in handy. In 2012 in Ontario, Peter Jansen constructed a functioning model that examines for magnetic fields and other things. And there are heaps of other real-world tricorders, too. Fiction and reality coming together thanks to Star Trek.

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