Friday, November 6, 2009

Star Trek tricorder jumble sale discovery

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend stumbled across this Star Trek tricorder toy at a jumble sale down the road.

I had a bit of fun ironically unboxing it (here's a set of pictures on Flickr) but since I've never been a massive Star Trek fan, my curiosity really came from a different angle: as an example of what our past selves thought future technologies would look like.

Star Trek has, of course, been hugely influential on the technology industry (compare with this talk by Nokia researcher Julian Bleecker at this year's eTech conference). And even though I've watched my fair share of the shows and films, it always astounds me precisely how much of our idea of "the future" was shaped by the ideas outlined by Rodenberry and friends.

OK, it's a toy, it's clunky, it's drab. There could have been millions of them in circulation over the years. But I love the fact that even though it's based on a fictional 1960s design, it looks an awful lot like a clamshell mobile phone. I wonder if the kids who played with these toys back in the day ever thought they would have to deal with patchy network reception and dodgy 3G deadzones?