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Make it so: Google made a working Star Trek Communicator badge

Gordon Mah Ung | Nov. 24, 2015
Picard to Enterprise: Google's prototype badge connected to a phone over Bluetooth.

google prototype
Google created its own lapel pin. Credit: Time

And you thought Google's ideas came from years of analysis, thoughtful design and just being way smarter than the rest of us. Nope. It seems that sometimes the company's engineers just watched TV.

At least TV was the inspiration for a prototype lapel pin that let you talk to a computer for information. Yup, straight out of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"I always wanted that pin,” Google's Amit Singhal told Time while showing of the Google Star Trek communicator badge. “You just ask it anything and it works. That’s why we were like, ‘Let’s go prototype that and see how it feels.’” 

Communicator badges in the 23rd century let crewmembers talk to the computer with a single tap. Credit: Paramount

The Star Trek Communicator badge isn't the only Hollywood tech that inspires Googlers, either. The same Time interview says Google employees often invoke the human-like talking OS from the movie Her as well.

Are those the only two examples of Google's obsession with movie tech? Perhaps not. Google has never owned up to the design inspiration for its self-driving car, but it definitely evokes the goofy look and feel of the cars from Woody Allen's Sleepers

No, that's not a goofy Google self-driving car on the right outside McDonalds, it's a shot from Woody Allen's Sleepers. Credit: United Artists

Car aficionados would probably opt for the Sleeper car over the Google car, but, hey, Google is still in the prototype stage.  

Google self driving car (5) 
Google's self-driving car prototype, seen in a company promotional video. Credit: Google

We have to now wonder what other technology is lurking deep in Google's labs. Since you'll soon be able to buy an authentic Star Trek Communicator that actually works, I have a few other suggestions for Google:

I still have a scale model of an Eagle Transporter from Space: 1999 in my closet, but I need the CommLink too. This handy device from the classic 1970s TV show let you conduct video messaging and unlock doors. 

Barbara Bain uses a Commlink in Space: 1999. It's a communications device, clock and door opener.  Credit: ITV Studios

I also need a Tricorder—but thanks to Google we're already half way there. You can already use an Android device to analyze something's size and make a 3D model of it, take thermal images of it, and check ambient temperature and barometric pressure. But how about detecting life forms and doing spectroscopic analysis of objects too?


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