Star Trek tech we use today (almost)

For the past four decades, Star Trek has been influencing and predicting new gadgets and technologies. How close are we to Trek-inspired phasers, tricorders, and invisibility cloaks?

Star Trek: Universal Translator vs. Today: Phraselator

In Star Trek: Enterprise, members of the crew use a universal language translator--housed in what appeared to be a heavy-duty flashlight case (or something)--to decipher a multitude of alien languages. Today’s closest equivalent is the Phraselator, a handheld device used by the U.S. military. Here’s how it works: An English speaker selects a phrase from a screen menu, and Phraselator plays the prerecorded phrase in the target language (such as Arabic). Or the user may speak into the device, which then uses speech recognition to determine the best phrase to play. The idea is to minimize the word-to-word snafus that make translations produced by programs such as Babelfish so problematic (and frequently hilarious).

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