Author Topic: Scientist beams up a real "Star Trek" tricorder  (Read 1434 times)

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Offline Banshee

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Scientist beams up a real "Star Trek" tricorder
« on: Apr 16 2012 - 10:51AM »
Scientist beams up a real "Star Trek" tricorder

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Starships, warp speed, transporters, phasers. Think "Star Trek" technology is only the stuff of fiction? Think again.

Dr. Peter Jansen, a PhD graduate of the Cognitive Science Laboratory at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada,  has developed a scientific measurement device based on the tricorders  used by Captain Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy and other space adventurers on  the classic TV series that has spawned numerous spin-offs in more than  45 years.

"Star Trek inspired  me to be a scientist" said Jansen, who has been formally working on his  tricorder prototypes since 2007, but toying with the idea of making a  functioning device since he was "a kid in high school."

The 29-year-old  Jansen's school days spanned the late 1990s when "Star Trek: Voyager"  was on the air. It featured his favorite tricorder, a model with screens  on top and bottom.

The first tricorder  appeared on the original show's initial episode in 1966, when Capt.  Kirk swaggered toward audiences with his phaser weapon holstered to his  side but a tricorder in his hand. The hand-held devices for data  sensing, analysis and recording, have been a part of "Star Trek" ever  since.

But if Jansen, a  self-confessed "addicted maker" of things, is successful at developing,  testing and bringing his instrument into the public, the tricorder may  not be just the stuff of "Star Trek" prop rooms. It may be used for  real.

 Jansen said his  tricorder can take atmospheric measurements, or ambient temperature,  pressure or humidity. It can take electromagnetic measurements to test  magnetic fields, and it can make spatial measurements of distance,  location, or motion.

Fascinating, as Spock might say.

Jansen thinks of  his tricorder as a "general tool" -- a kind of "Swiss Army Knife" --  with practical uses in building inspection, for instance, where it might  help taking temperature and humidity readings or be a distance sensor  to measure rooms.
              It resembles the  device carried by countless "Away Team" members in "Star Trek - The Next  Generation" - his favorite of the "Star Trek" shows, he notes.

No independent  group has yet verified his claims for the device which, he said, is one  reason for placing his designs on a public website as an "open source"  that technology makers can utilize to test and tinker.

Jansen has posted  schematics and designs of his first and second prototypes, the Mark 1  and Mark 2, for anyone to see and build. Jansen expects to have his  latest version, the Mark 4, produced for "about $200."

"Everything you  need to build one is on line" at, said Jansen.  He hopes others will follow his lead

While it may sound  like the stuff of science fiction, Jansen isn't the only one to take  notice of just how useful a real functioning tricorder would be -  especially as a medical tool

Telecommunications  giant Qualcomm Inc this year launched the "Tricorder X-Prize Contest"  with the slogan "Healthcare in the palm of your hand." Qualcomm hopes to  motivate developers with a $10 million prize to make medical tricorders  a reality

Wanda Moebus of the  Advanced Medical Technology Association, who is not affiliated with  Jansen or Qualcomm, told Reuters the X-Prize "is really cool," but  cautioned that making a real medical tricorder device "would have to be  measured on its safety and effect, like all other medical technologies."

Jansen said he has  been approached by "a couple of teams" about the X Prize, but added that  his prototypes are more for science research than medical tools

Besides, he said he already is on to his next frontier,  making a sort of "replicator," another "Star Trek" device that will  create 3D objects and foods that are dimensional copies of real items.

Jansen's  "replicator" is a 3D printer, which in itself is not really new, but the  scientist thinks about it in terms reminiscent of "Star Trek's" famous  prologue. It's "like nothing we've ever seen before," Jansen said.
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Offline Steve Abrams

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Re: Scientist beams up a real "Star Trek" tricorder
« Reply #1 on: Apr 16 2012 - 04:04PM »
Isn't the newer MelMeters a tricorder? It measures temprature, Emf readings and emits a Rem field?

How about a trifield meter?

It's not a strange as the article would suggest. Just a different name.
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Offline NightStalker

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Re: Scientist beams up a real "Star Trek" tricorder
« Reply #2 on: Apr 16 2012 - 05:53PM »
Screw the tricorder, I want a phaser and a transporter.    :giggle2: