All hail Gene Roddenberry! It turns out the man was a genius, and not just because he decided to go with Star Trek, which changed the face of science fiction, over the eventual Kevin Sorbo fluff piece, Andromeda.
Medical Tricorders? Thanks Mr. Roddenberry!
Ok, so Andromeda wasn’t so terrible, but putting that argument aside for the moment, it can be said that science fiction is a highly prophetic endeavor. After all, the best scifi writers take into account existing technologies and extrapolate wonderful, imaginative visions of the future that show us gadgets which make us wish we could have been born a thousand years later than we were. In this light, Gene Roddenberry could be considered the greatest prophet of science fiction, because when you really get down to it the man envisioned an impressive amount of the technologies we have today. What is more impressive is that he showed up these technologies as being common, integral parts of our everyday lives.
Cell phones, sliding doors (yes, before Star Wars), laptops, replicators (sort of), blue tooth headsets, the iPad (as well as e-readers), and hyposprays were all nonexistent when Star Trek first showed them to us. Slowly but surely these items either came into existence and are now so common we take them for granted, or will be made a reality sooner than we think. The number of technologies influenced by, if not directly inspired by Star Trek is even greater than what I listed above (even the concept of computers holding such vast quantities of data and being able to recall anything at the touch of a button), but it does highlight my point.
And now, one more item of Star Trek tech can be checked off of the list: behold, the Medical Tricorder. Or, at least the basic foundational technology needed to create one. Imagine what it will be like when doctors can just wave a device in front of patients and immediately diagnose what’s wrong. It could greatly reduce much of the time needed for “tests”, or eliminate false diagnoses due to inaccurate reporting of symptoms by patients, or basic human error on the part of the Doctor. It even completely removes language barriers so that doctors can literally help anyone without ever having to ask them “where does it hurt?” Imagine emergency rooms and triage centers of the future. Imagine disaster areas, both natural and man-made, where the loss of life can be drastically reduced with the flick of a wrist. No more complications due to dangerous combinations of medicines. No more mystery of what’s going on inside the human body at any given moment.
And still the best part, a world where colonoscopies are but a memory from a more barbaric age!