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: Cloaking Device vs. Today: Prototype Cloaking Devices

Various civilizations in the Star Trek universe mastered the science of cloaking--the ability to render an object invisible to the naked eye, to the electromagnetic spectrum, and to most sensors. Starships were often cloaked for military combat, and Romulan warships always seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Researchers today are developing cloaking technologies that bend electromagnetic waves around an object. These prototypes don’t render an object invisible to infrared and visible light, but they can cloak different types of waves. A short video from Duke University demonstrates and explains how this is done. Another approach is demonstrated in the picture above: Researcher Susumu Tachi has created an optical camouflage system--though we're inclined to call it a windbreakering device rather than a cloaking device. Anyone wearing this special reflective material seems to disappear (or at least become see-through): A video camera captures what's going on behind whoever the subject is and projects that image to the front of the reflective material. Can Romulan-style cloaking be so very far away?

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