When the original series of Star Trek first aired, it was, despite it’s monetary shortfalls, a television show filled with new gadgets and technologies that at the time were truly fictional, new and different. Voice operated desktop computers, hypo-syringes, pocket-sized communication devices, etc. The list goes on and on. However, a lot of these devices were dreamed up not because they had such a keen eye for the vision of the future, but more so because they had to work around certain constraints.
One example is the transporter. “According to The Making of Star Trek, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s original plan did not include transporters, instead calling for characters to land the starship itself. However, this would have required unfeasible and unaffordable sets and model filming, as well as episode running time spent while landing, taking off, etc. The shuttlecraft was the next idea, but when filming began, the full-sized shooting model was not ready. Transporters were devised as a less expensive alternative, achieved by a simple fade-out/fade-in of the subject. Transporters first appear in the original pilot episode “The Cage”. The transporter special effect, before being done using computer animation, was created by turning a slow-motion camera upside down and photographing some backlit shiny grains of aluminium powder that were dropped between the camera and a black background.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transporter_%28Star_Trek%29
So what we have is a technology created, that has become immensely popular, not because of amazing foresight, but because of budget and time constraints. This is the type of setback that recent incarnations of Star Trek no longer have to deal with. And in my personal opinion, since Star Trek revealed the holodeck in the first episode of the Next Generation, Star Trek hasn’t really come up with anything spectacularly new. At least not to me.
So that brings us to this week’s Poll of the Week question. Do you think there is still new and exciting technologies for Star Trek to dream up for future renditions of the franchise? Or do you think the powers that be have become so complacent that they will just reinvent those technologies already introduced in earlier versions of Star Trek? Basically, is necessity the mother of invention, not only in the real world, but also in the Star Trek franchise itself? Or do you think future Star Trek can still deliver technologies that make us go collectively “wow!” What do you think? Beam over to the polls and share your thoughts with the collective.