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  1. #1
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Get your own WORKING Star Trek Communicator

    Needless to say, I was rather disappointed to hear that Star Trek: Enterprise wouldn't be renewed and is being cancelled at the end of May. One of the reasons why I like sci-fi (and despise reality shows) is that it allows you to be creative and escape reality for a little bit. While visit Trek Today to see the status on the "Save Enterprise" adventures, I discovered the gem below. (ok ok. So I'm a trekkie )

    At least Battlestar Galactica has been made into a somewhat decent series.

    Source: The Economist

    Communications: Taking its cue from “Star Trek”, an American company has devised a clever new form of voice-driven wireless communicator

    SCIENCE fiction has often been the source of inspiration for new technologies. The exo-skeletons and head-mounted displays featured in the film “Aliens”, for example, spawned a number of military-funded projects to try to create similar technologies. Automatic sliding doors might never have become popular had they not appeared on the television series “Star Trek”. And the popularity of flip-top or “clamshell” mobile phones may stem from the desire to look like Captain Kirk flipping open his communicator on the same programme.

    Now it seems that “Star Trek” has done it again. This month, American soldiers in Iraq will begin trials of a device inspired by the “comm badge” featured in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Like crew members of the starship Enterprise, soldiers will be able to talk to other members of their unit just by tapping and then speaking into a small badge worn on the chest. What sets the comm badge apart from a mere walkie-talkie, and appeals to “Star Trek” fans, is the system's apparent intelligence. It works out who you are calling from spoken commands, and connects you instantly.

    The system, developed by Vocera Communications of Cupertino, California, uses a combination of Wi-Fi wireless networking and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) technologies to link up the badges via a central server, akin to a switchboard. The badges are already being used in 80 large institutions, most of them hospitals, to replace overhead paging systems, says Brent Lang, Vocera's vice-president.

    Like its science-fiction counterpart, the badge is designed so that all functions can be carried out by pressing a single button. On pressing it, the caller gives a command and specifies the name of a person or group of people, such as “call Dr Smith” or “locate the nearest anaesthesiologist”. Voice-recognition software interprets the commands and locates the appropriate person or group, based on whichever Wi-Fi base-station they are closest to. The person receiving the call then hears an audible alert stating the name of the caller and, if he or she wishes to take the call, responds by tapping the badge and starting to speak.

    That highlights a key difference between the “Star Trek” comm badge and the real-life version: Vocera's implementation allows people to reject incoming calls, rather than having the voice of the caller patched through automatically. But even the most purist fans can forgive Vocera for deviating from the script in this way, says David Batchelor, an astrophysicist and “Star Trek” enthusiast at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. For there are, he notes, some curious aspects to the behaviour of the comm badges in “Star Trek”. In particular, the fictional badge seems to be able to predict the future. When the captain of the Enterprise says “Picard to sick-bay: Medical emergency on the bridge,” for example, his badge somehow connects him to the sick-bay before he has stated the destination of the call.

    Allowing badge users to reject incoming calls if they are busy, rather than being connected instantly, was a feature added at the request of customers, says Mr Lang. But in almost all other respects the badges work just like their fictional counterparts. This is not very surprising, says Lawrence Krauss, an astrophysicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and the author of “The Physics of Star Trek”. In science fiction, and particularly in “Star Trek”, most problems have technological fixes. Sometimes, it seems, those fixes can be applied to real-world problems too.

    Vocera's system is particularly well suited to hospitals, says Christine Tarver, a clinical manager at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, California. It allows clinical staff to reach each other far more quickly than with beepers and overhead pagers. A recent study carried out at St Agnes Healthcare in Baltimore, Maryland, assessed the amount of time spent by clinical staff trying to get hold of each other, both before and after the installation of the Vocera system. It concluded that the badges would save the staff a total of 3,400 hours each year.

    Nursing staff often end up playing phone tag with doctors, which wastes valuable time, says Ms Tarver. And although people using the badges sometimes look as though they are talking to themselves, she says, many doctors prefer it because it enables them to deal with queries more efficiently. The system can also forward calls to mobile phones; it can be individually trained to ensure that it understands users with strong accents; and it can even be configured with personalised ringtones.

    In Iraq, soldiers will use the Vocera badges in conjunction with base-stations mounted on Humvee armoured vehicles. Beyond medical and military uses, Vocera hopes to sell the technology to retailers and hotels. And the firm's engineers are now extending the system to enable the badges to retrieve stored information, such as patient records or information about a particular drug, in response to spoken commands. Their inspiration? Yet another “Star Trek” technology: the talking ship's computer.
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  2. #2
    They call me the Hunted foxyloxley's Avatar
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    and the author of “The Physics of Star Trek”.
    Oh boy Oh boy Oh boy ........... That's MY birthday present sorted
    Just have to drop a couple of [heavy] hints to the SO.

    I like Sci-Fi, and especially these kind of books.

    One favourite is The Science of Discworld by Terry Pratchett.

    Good stuff.
    Might ask Santa for a communicator for Christmas too
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  3. #3
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    At least Battlestar Galactica has been made into a somewhat decent series.
    |The|Specialist drifts off into a trail of thoughts as some blonde lady shows up and rubs up agianst him.

  4. #4
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    |The|Specialist drifts off into a trail of thoughts as some blonde lady shows up and rubs up agianst him.
    What?? You have Starbuck visiting you now?
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  5. #5
    ********** |ceWriterguy
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    Yanno, after watching the first series as a kid, it's weird getting used to Starbuck as a chick...not that I mind, she's much better looking to me than Dirk Benedict
    Even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

    Which coder said that nobody could outcode Microsoft in their own OS? Write a bit and make a fortune!

  6. #6
    T̙͓̞̣̯ͦͭͅͅȂͧͭͧ̏̈͏̖̖Z̿ ͆̎̄
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    Star Trek was ahead of it's time in alot of ways...in tech...race relations...even had a russian while we were still in the cold war...who would have thought Americans and Russians would team up in space...still like the tribble one the best...still think it's funny.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted here by MsMittens
    What?? You have Starbuck visiting you now?
    Yeap. But TheSpecialist didnt realize that "she" is THE Starbuck from the Galactica Original Series

    I like Star Trek series too, but Enterprise was suffering the same problem of DS9 and Voyager - no good writters. The 3rd season was a crap. Perhaps they would like to hire SG-1 writters
    Meu sítio

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  8. #8
    BS, EnCE, ACE, Cellebrite 11001001's Avatar
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    Now that's cool.

    I wonder what the applications could be for public safety. I'm sure police and emergency workers would be able to make use of this technology, if the signal is strong enough to cover a whole town or county...

    Tangent: I wonder what happens when if the person you're calling is already talking to someone else?
    That's Officer 11001001 to you...
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  9. #9
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    Tangent: I wonder what happens when if the person you're calling is already talking to someone else?
    Good point. I never saw a "line busy" on Star Trek

    Perhaps the communicator will beep to warn you that is a incoming call.
    Meu sítio

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    If I die before I sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to encrypt.
    If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to brake.

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