I grew up watching Star Trek. It wasn’t really the story lines that hooked me, but the science. Teleporters, phasers, tricorders, they were all so very “futuristic”. It seems that the future isn’t exactly as far off as it once felt.
Dr. Peter Jansen, a graduate of McMaster University, has been developing tricorders since 2007. A strong believer in the open-source movement, you can get all the blueprints and plans to build one yourself at his TricorderProjectwebsite, though the learning curve is quite steep.
Jansen has built two iterations of his tricorder, giving him the ability to measure atmospheric (temp, humidity, and pressure), electromagnetic (light properties and magnetic fields), and spatial properties (GPS, distance, and acceleration). The idea is to have all of the sensors in one portable and easy to use interface.
In the below video, Janzen explains his motivation, “My hope is that someday every household and every kid who wants one will have access to this device that they can keep close in a pocket or bag and really pull out when curiosity strikes.”
It is not only Jansen who is interested in tricorders. Recently Qualcomm, along with the X-Prize foundation, have set aside $10 million for anyone who can create a medicaltricorder. The idea is that, by 2015, someone will invent a portable medical diagnostic tool, capable of monitoring and scanning for health problems. Such a device could have a huge impact to healthcare, decentralizing medicine away from hospitals and clinics, and bringing diagnostic tools low population villages.
It seems that we are quickly, and boldly I might add, propelling ourselves into the future. Here is some more Star Trek gadgetry being worked on:
Teleportation? Scientists have been able to teleport information between photons, over a distance as large as 10 km. Although not on the order of moving people around, quantum entanglement, the foundation of quantum teleportation, has huge repercussions in quantum computing and encryption.
Now if we could only figure out how to heat Earl Grey tea properly.