Phil Plait had a recent review of what Star Trek technology was possible but he categorized many technologies as not being possible without considering the functions commonly seen on Star trek shows and how those benefits could be delivered. Phil placed too much emphasis on the literal technobabble.
Turbolifts – going up, down and sideways
ThyssenKrupp places linear motors in elevator cabins, transforming conventional elevator transportation in vertical metro systems. MULTI elevator technology increases transport capacities and efficiency while reducing the elevator footprint and peak loads from the power supply in buildings. Several cabins in the same shaft moving vertically and horizontally will permit buildings to adopt different heights, shapes, and purposes. The first MULTI unit will be in tests by 2016.
MULTI will transform how people move inside buildings, just as the recently introduced ThyssenKrupp’s ACCEL, which also applies the same linear motor technology, is set to transform mobility between short distances in cities and airports.
In a manner similar to a metro system operation, the MULTI design can incorporate various self-propelled elevator cabins per shaft running in a loop, increasing the shaft transport capacity by up to 50% making it possible to reduce the elevator footprint in buildings by as much as 50%.
Using no cables at all, a multi-level brake system, and inductive power transfers from shaft to cabin, MULTI requires smaller shafts than conventional elevators, and can increase a building’s usable area by up to 25%, considering that, depending on the size of the building, current elevator-escalator footprints can occupy up to 40% of the building’s floor space. The overall increase in efficiency also translates into a lower requirement for escalators and additional elevator shafts, resulting in significant construction cost savings as well as a multiplication of rent revenues from increased usable space.
ThyssenKrupp’s MULTI consists of various cabs per shaft and enables vertical and horizontal movement.
We are making a lot of progress to on demand translation of text and speech translation.
Phil made a point that Star Trek could translate all kinds of vastly alien languages. But we live on Earth so if we can translate the top 70 human languages then that is plenty towards useful Universal translation.
Food Replication – complex food on demand
There is a lot of progress being made to 3D printing of food. There is also progress towards even faster cooking times. NASA has a funded project for 3D printing of food in space.
Replication beyond food
There is growing industry of additive manufacturing. There has been success in printing functional cars and parts of planes and a working gun. Printing entire planes, satellites and space vehicles is an area of well funded research.
Teleport or get from orbit 400-40000 kilometers in a minute or less
An alternative to teleportation is superfast acceleration and deceleration transportation. Teleportation has only been done on atomic particles.
If there was molecular nanotechnology and room temperature superconductors this could be combined to shield people from harm against 100 gravities of acceleration and deceleration. This would be about 1 kilometer per second squared of acceleration. If a person was now encased in breathable liquid, short accelerations and decelarations of 30 Gs would be survivable. Molecular nanotechnology could be used to enhance the toughness and survivability of people. Magnetic acceleration and deceleration could enable someone to get from orbit to the ground in about 40 seconds. This would be a pretty close approximation of teleporting from an orbiting spaceship. It would be somewhat like the Galaxy Quest movie system of encasing someone in Utility Liquid and then moving them. Advanced Molecular nanotechnology could further modify people to enable 1000 gravities to be survivable. Then it would be 4 seconds from low earth orbit.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.