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10 new iOS 10 features coming to your iPhone and iPad next week

A wealth of emotion-based upgrades for the mobile OS, from photo ‘memories’ to more emojis

Apple’s new iOS is out next week – 13 September to be exact – and here’s our guide to the biggest features coming up in the new OS. It’s a free download although if you buy a new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus it will be pre-installed of course.

The iOS 10 update will be available for iPhone 5S or later, iPad Mini 2 or later. iPod Touches must be of the sixth generation or newer.

1. User experience just got turned up to 11

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Lock screen notifications can be viewed just by picking up your iPhone in iOS 10 (a bit like the always-on feature available on Android phones), and notifications and widgets have been given a cleaner, more modern-looking design in the new software as well.

The OS also lets you interact with apps right from the lock screen, so you can quickly jump into a conversation thread or Uber map for example. The Control Centre has been simplified as well, though there aren’t any major design tweaks elsewhere in iOS 10.

2. Developers now get to hang out with Siri

This year developers get access to Siri, which means you’ll soon be able to use the clever digital assistant to get into other apps besides the ones that Apple itself makes – imagine getting Siri to write out a WhatsApp message, order an Uber ride and so on.

It’s going to significantly increase the number of tasks Siri can handle and was an inevitable move considering how deeply Google Now is integrating itself into Android and the apps that run on it. Siri will also be compatible with CarPlay with iOS 10 too.

3. And while we are talking Siri… the super assistant gets smarter

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Apple is adding “Siri intelligence” to the iOS keyboard as well – the company says the deep learning behind Siri is going to be used to improve the accuracy of autocorrect to better work out what you’re trying to say before your fingers have had chance to tap it out.

On top of that, related contact information and calendar events will pop up in contexts where you might need them, and you can drop in your current location as well. It should make the iOS 10 keyboard a lot smarter and a lot more useful inside any of your apps.

4. Photos get a refresh and more emotional

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Apple knows it has to up its image game with Google Photos on the scene (for both Android and iOS), and the Photos app included in iOS 10 will have some of the automatic tagging and smart recognition features that Google’s app has become known for.

It will be able to spot mountains and beaches, for example, and group pictures together by date or location. There’s a new Memories feature that can automatically stitch together pictures from a particular event (again something that Google Photos already does).

5. Proactive Maps just look much, much better

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Maps is another app getting a major upgrade this time around. The UI has been cleaned up and improved to make it easier on the eye, and Maps can now warn you if there’s traffic up ahead and make suggestions about a faster route that you might want to take instead.

Maps is getting more “proactive” too, Apple says – that means more suggestions will pop up automatically, so you can get recommendations on nearby restaurants, bars, coffee shops or whatever else you’re looking for. These changes are heading to the desktop too.

6. Apple Music becomes heroic

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Like Maps, Apple Music is getting a new lick of paint with iOS 10, and it’s going to be simpler to navigate around. The same tabs are in place at the bottom though, so it’s not a radical overhaul, but you can get at music you’ve actually downloaded more easily.

Apple is taking a leaf out of Spotify’s book with a new batch of curated daily playlists that will recommend music that matches your personal tastes, and an embedded lyrics feature has been added to the app too so you can sing along to your favourite tracks as well.

7. New Apple News is serious news

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Apple News is the next built-in iOS app to get a refreshed look. The interface looks more newspaper-ish, and when iOS 10 arrives the app will support subscriptions as well. Basically, you’ll be able to get at entire news apps inside one single portal.

Breaking news alerts can be sent directly to the lock screen with Apple News in iOS 10 and it’s going to be easier to browse by topic too. Again, not major upgrades, but News only launched last year, so Apple is taking the opportunity to tweak some of its weaker aspects.

8. HomeKit ain’t going nowhere

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Remember HomeKit, Apple’s platform for controlling the smart home? Apple certainly hasn’t forgotten about it, and iOS 10 will bring with it an app called Home for controlling all of your HomeKit devices in one place, which integrates right into Control Centre.

What’s more, Home is going to bring with it support for scenes, so you can bundle together groups of settings to activate when you’re leaving the house or going to sleep or whatever else you get up to at home. It will work well with the Apple TV too, according to Apple.

9. Phone upgrades make calling a pleasure

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Number nine in Apple’s list is upgrades to the phone calling experience on iOS 10. The mobile OS update will bring with it voicemail transcriptions, which means you can read through messages that have been left for you if you can’t listen to the recording instead.

Voice-over-IP apps (such as Skype) will be able to make video calls look just like regular phone calls, and the iOS 10 contact cards have been refreshed to make it easier to tap into all the different ways of getting in touch with someone (from email to WhatsApp).

10. Messages get bigger emoji and bubble effects

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The most frequently used app on iOS, according to Apple: Messages is getting rich links that can be viewed inside the app itself, a live photo preview feature, bigger emoji and predictions for emoji as you type, as well as a one-tap emoji-to-text replacement feature.

Apple also introduced a new bubble effects feature so you can be ‘loud’ or ‘soft’ with your text, plus handwriting support and an ‘invisible ink’ mode where a swipe is required to reveal some words or an image. A full-screen mode is being added as well.

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2016 tech trends: the key technologies to watch out for

There’s a running joke in the tech industry about new technologies: everything from internet fridges to flying cars is always five years away.

But some predictions are more rooted in reality, and we’re already seeing strong evidence of the technologies that will dominate the year ahead. Here are our picks of the technologies to watch in 2016.

4K

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HD displays are so 2015. In 2016 the hype is going to centre around 4K screens, not just in your living room and on streaming services but in your pocket too. Sony was first off the starting blocks with its 4K Xperia Z5 Premium, and other phone firms are expected to follow suit. We’re not entirely sure why we actually need 4K in such small screens, but hey! Just count those pixels!

Super smartphones

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In 2016, smartphones will develop superpowers. Processors and camera sensors will continue to improve, but the super bit will be happening on the outside and in the battery. Samsung and Sony have both unveiled technologies that they say will double the life of smartphone batteries, while Motorola appears to have created a smartphone with a truly unbreakable screen in the form of the Moto X Force. They’ll probably get even thinner, too: for example, Apple has reportedly developed new displays that are even thinner than before and intends to get shot of the headphone socket to free up a few more micro-millimetres.

VR

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You’ll be able to get your hands on VR kit from Samsung, Sony, HTC/Valve and Oculus this year, but while the early focus is going to be on gaming many pundits predict that gaming won’t be the killer app; social networking will be. That’s something Facebook clearly believes, which is why it bought Oculus, and while we won’t see that side of VR do big things in 2016 we may well see social VR take its first steps. Maybe Second Life was just ahead of its time.

Semi-autonomous cars

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Fully autonomous cars are still some way off, but the assistive technologies being put in the cars of 2016 are getting awfully close. For example, the 2016 Mercedes E Class will have multiple cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors, will be able to follow the vehicle in front at speeds of up to 200km/h and will be capable of driving itself on roads without clear lane markings at speeds of up to 130km/h.

Hyperloop

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Remember Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s vision of super-fast public transport? It’s being built – or at least, a prototype is. Work started on the £98 million test track in California in November. It’s going to be partly financed by the world’s longest billboard and run entirely on renewable energy. We hope it works.

Smart Homes

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Popular Mechanics was talking about the automated home of the future way back in 1939, and in late 2015 we still don’t know how to programme the oven. But 2016 could well be the year that the predictions come true, with Apple’s HomeKit, Google Brillo/Weave and Samsung SmartThings all delivering home automation and connection products that actually work. There’s a new name to watch, too: AllJoyn, an open source home automation and connectivity platform that’s being led by chip manufacturer Qualcomm and supported by Sharp, LG, Panasonic and others.

Android

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Android is on the march: it made its official debut as a laptop OS in the Pixel C tablet/hybrid, and it’s going to be powering a wider range of devices as 2016 continues. The ultimate aim, according to the Wall Street Journal, is to merge Android and ChromeOS into a single operating system. That won’t happen until 2017 but you can expect Android and Chrome to grow ever closer this year.

Quantum computing

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Fancy a computer that “taps directly into the fundamental fabric of reality”? Google’s got one. Its D-Wave (http://www.dwavesys.com/quantum-computing) Quantum Computer has been in operation since 2013 and could revolutionise computing: because the technology is so powerful and works so quickly, it could crack the toughest encryption without breaking sweat. Google has just published a research paper detailing its work so far, and if the more excitable pundits are correct it could be the most important computer since the Magratheans built Earth to find the ultimate question of Life, The Universe and Everything.

Disappearing keyboards

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In 2016, most of the computing we do won’t involve a keyboard: it’ll use a combination of clever software and alternative forms of input and output to deliver the information or service we need, when we need it. That could be getting your smartwatch to remind you to take the cake out at a certain time, Google Now telling you you really ought to get in the car right now, barking commands at a video streaming service or just messing around with app-controlled home automation kit.

Glitches in The Matrix

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According to Harvard Business Review, the sheer speed of new technology development means that things are going live without enough testing to discover potential interactions with other systems and the effect of problems such as bandwidth issues. The result? Glitches, unexpected events or combinations of issues that bring down systems or mess up data. So far glitches have taken down the NASDAQ stock exchange, grounded thousands of flights and messed up people’s Netflix streams. Expect lots more of them in the coming months.

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10 top car tech trends for 2016

This is all the auto tech you need to get excited about

Whether you’re shopping for a new hypercar or trying cut motoring costs, these are big predictions for automotive tech in 2017.

1. Hybrids will remain a big hit
The hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTE

The hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTE

Hybrid propulsion has proven a popular way to reduce emissions and increase performance in modern cars. Everyone, from the big SUV manufacturers to makers of insane hypercars, is turning to some sort of electrification, and this is showing no signs of slowing in 2016.

Bentley’s regal Bentayga and Honda’s awesome NSX will fly the flag for hybrid performance, while VW has committed to battery packs and electric motors in an attempt to repair its somewhat damaged reputation. Expect the forecourts to be flooded with plug-ins next year.

2. Apple and Google will invade your car

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It has taken a long time for Apple and Google to get its in-car iOS and Android systems up and running, but 2016 will be the year you can finally plug in your smartphone and access apps on the move.

Volvo, Ford, Vauxhall and VW will all support one or both of the systems, while a brace of after-market head units will hit the shops and make it easier for anyone to retrofit the technology.

Early hands-on reviews have revealed that Android Auto currently offers the best smartphone integration, but Apple is committed to the cause, with a number of developers currently working on car-friendly apps.

3. You’ll be encouraged to share

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Automakers have clearly noticed that ever more customers are relying on services such as Uber or BlaBlaCar for rides, rather than purchasing cars outright, which is why car-sharing services are back on the agenda. Ford announced that its London-based Go-Drive was available in Beta stage to the public in May, while Kia has rolled out a similar app-based service in Korea.

Research by Ford suggests that in the U.K. alone the car-sharing sector will grow by 23 per cent from 2013 to 2025, with many of these services relying on all-electric vehicles. Not only is the system much greener but also punters find it easier to live with EVs when someone else deals with charging and maintenance.The success of Lyft in the USA could also see location-based peer-to-peer ride-sharing applications installed directly to the infotainment system.

4. Vehicles will talk to each other

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Volvo, BMW and Mercedes-Benz (IAA concept pictured above) are all currently trialling systems that see cars interact with one another and their surroundings via NFC chips and built-in SIM cards, with many unleashing ‘talkative’ models early next year. The idea is that the next-gen car will be able to see obstructions and potential hazards way before any human can.

For example, if a car is broken down on a hazardous bend, it can send out a distress signal to a central server, which then warns other cars in the vicinity. The system, which has been dubbed Car-to-X, works best when the majority of cars and roadside infrastructure features a generic, compatible technology. Thankfully, most manufacturers are working with the European Car 2 CarConsortium to come up with a cloud-based system that works for everyone.

5. Say “hi!” to hands-free motoring on the motorway

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Automated driving features have already started creeping into many cars, with most premium offerings now boasting radar-based cruise control that will happily keep up with stop/start traffic with little input from the driver, but expect more to come next year.

The law is still to catch up with many autonomous functions but don’t be surprised if Mercedes’ upcoming E-Class paves the way for hands-free driving on the motorway.

It will feature the latest Car-to-X communications system; cutting edge safety tech and an array of radar and sensor systems that see it keep in lane and out of danger. The driver currently has to keep hands on the wheel at all times, but the big manufacturers are making great progress in proving that their tech is better than a human being. So long string-backed driving gloves, hello Candy Crush marathon.

6. You won’t have to park anymore

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Parking sucks. It’s often tricky in congested areas, it sometimes leads to smashed alloy wheels and it’s deeply embarrassing when it’s not done correctly, which is why most are happy to hand over valet duties to a robot. Ford, Renault and many premium brands already own a system that will hunt down parallel and reverse parking spots and then use sensors and cameras to correctly steer the vehicle into the space, only calling upon a human for throttle inputs.

But things are about to get a whole lot easier, as BMW and Mercedes-Benz now boast tech that simply requires a prod of a smartphone for perfect parking results. BMW’s Remote Control Parking is already on the 7 Series (due to be rolled out on more models next year) and sees the car autonomously reverse into and pull out of spaces, while Mercedes’ Remote Parking Pilot does a similar thing but also caters for perpendicular parking. The latter will appear on the new E-Class, which is due out late 2016/early 2017.

7. Headlights will grow brains

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Well, not literally, but headlights are getting ridiculously clever. Audi’s use of laser technology in its high-end machines has ushered in a new era of illumination, while automatic high-beam assist can provide optimum light without dazzling oncoming drivers. Volvo will roll out its ‘bending’ headlight technology to other models in 2016, which automatically swivels the lamps with steering input to light up more of the road ahead.

Mass-market manufacturers, such as Vauxhall and Ford, have started harnessing the power of ultra-bright LEDs to light the way and soon enough, replacing a bulb will be a thing of the past. The upcoming Mercedes E-Class features 84 individual high-performance LEDs at the front rather than the 24 used in the current model, for example, so expect the rear-view mirror to be well and truly ‘lit up’ next year.

8. BMW i8 Spyder will prove hybrids can be sexy

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BMW is set to unveil a drop-top version of its ground-breaking i8 model at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, proving that alternative fuel vehicles can be desirable. But it’s not just the roof that has changed; BMW plans to unleash a whole host of new tech in Las Vegas.

Most of it is strictly embargoed, but it’s fair to say cameras will be used extensively to cover blind spots, while an updated gesture control system is likely to feature. Oh, and highly automated driving will definitely be on the agenda.

9. Gesture control replaces dials

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The BMW 7 Series first introduced the world to gesture control earlier this year, with its infrared camera mounted in the rear-view mirror that can pick up hand gestures and control certain infotainment functions. The German marque is set to update this system in 2016 and expect other manufacturers to rapidly follow suit.

Carmakers are constantly looking for ways to de-clutter the dashboard, with Audi and Volvo opting for touch-screens and virtual binnacles this year, but expect the next generation of human-machine interface to do away with touch entirely and instead use interactive surfaces that simply require swipes or gestures to control functionality.

10. Infotainment systems will control the connected home

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The car is rapidly becoming much more than a tool to get humans to Tescos and back, as the latest multimedia systems allow for emails to be read and sent, hands-free calls to be made and Twitter to be updated on the move, while Nissan is proving that electric cars can be used to power home electronics when not in use.

However, the car will integrate with the home further next year, as on-board tech is used to control elements in the smart home, such as heating and alarm systems.

Continental demonstrated its Holistic Connectivity innovation this year, which is constantly connected to the web and can be used to switch on the home heating when the car is within a two-mile radius or set the Sky box to record your favourite show when on the move.

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Do we really need another messaging app? Amity thinks so

In 2016, building a brand new messaging app and hoping it catches on seems particularly quixotic.

Why spend two years building an app that must ceaselessly throw itself against the wall of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik and the rest? If you’re of the Steve Jobs school of thought, then “a positive impact on the world,” would be your answer, of course.

That’s the story of Johnny Cheng. The 27-year-old and his band of fellow twenty-somethings have built a free iOS and Android app, Amity, in “complete secrecy” on the outskirts of Brisbane, Australia.

“Our team believed we could make a positive impact on the world,” he told. “We believed that connecting people was just the beginning, and that it’s now time to do something to enrich every connection worldwide.”

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Silicon Valley bromides aside, Amity is basically a fine looking app. It’s got none of the unintuitive anti-adult functionality of Snapchat, and takes a whitespace aesthetic out of Facebook’s playbook. It also has a Memories-style section where old media will be saved, and plenty of stickers.

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Its major point of difference is a live mode that activates special functions, like emoji bursts, when two people are present in a chat. Instead of just sending photos, you can also request photos as well as location.

According to Cheng, Amity wants to eliminate the gap between how we interact in real life and how we interact in messaging apps. “We think there’s a much lighter way to interact than just text message, so we’ve introduced a lot of low-friction, one-touch actions. Things like the ability to send a high-five,” he said.

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Although still in beta on Android, Amity definitely works smoothly on smartphones. But unfortunately, this author has no one (except a few work colleagues) to message on the app.

Cheng admitted it would be an uphill battle to fight for space in a crowded market, but pointed to the numerous ways the app can pull people on board.

If you connect your phone’s address book, your contacts are automatically added to your list if they are already on Amity. Alternatively, there is an “add nearby” functionality that’s only on iOS for now. If you’re in a room with your family and friends, you can turn this on and quickly add one another.

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Apps like Musical.ly have captured users because they offer a new, celebrity-style way to present yourself to the world. Other consumer-facing messaging apps, such as Signal, have hitched their appeal to growing public awareness about digital privacy. Amity, for now, has prioritised cute functions over end to end encryption.

“We’re actively looking into ways we can offer encryption, while still allowing people to use Amity on any platform or device at any time,” Cheng said. “We want to introduce these options while allowing people to have a creative experience.”

While the startup has been entirely self-funded so far according to Cheng, they’re in the midst of raising a seed round.

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One investor is Mick Johnson. The San Francisco-based former Facebook employee confirmed he had committed “five figures” to the startup. Johnson praised the Amity team’s grit and enthusiasm.

“Messaging is obviously a busy space, but it’s clear to me that messaging 10 years from now will be very different to what we have today,” he told Mashable in an email. “China is already far ahead in terms of what consumers can access, compared to the West. So the opportunity to back a small, passionate team who’ve built a very slick product and iterate rapidly was pretty appealing.”

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If Amity truly starts to compete with products such as Facebook Messenger, for example, you can be sure those companies will quickly integrate its key features. Witness Instagram’s self-admitted rip off of Snapchat, via Instagram Stories. That’s not to say no one should try and take on the big guys on, but without new tech such as heavy encryption, it may prove fruitless.

In any case, if Amity proves sticky enough, they could be bought outright.

For now, Cheng is downplaying that idea. He’s hoping to make it big. “We want to build one of the next great tech companies,” he said.

“We’re on a mission to create a communication experience that’s more complete, more human and inspiring. That mission won’t be complete for a long time.”

Those are some admirable ambitions. You almost wish Amity was not just another way to send smiley faces to your friends.

Tiffany Schubert dressesd as a crew member, left, and her father Keith Schubert ,of Peru, N.Y., dressed as Star Trek's Mr. Spock,right, during a tour of the replica starship Enterprise from the original “Star Trek” series during the Trekonderoga festival on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, in Ticonderoga, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink) ORG XMIT: NYHP

7 Star Trek Technologies Available Today

Fifty years ago when “Star Trek” premiered on NBC, Gene Roddenberry, along with a slew of writers, introduced a trippy intergalactic vision of the future into American homes. Now that five decades have passed, how far has society advanced technology to resemble the fantasy-world of the “the final frontier?”

Tractor Beams

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While its origins are based in science fiction, tractor beam technology is alive and well. The University of Sussex  is using ”high-amplitude soundwaves to generate an acoustic hologram.” NASA has also developed “optical-trapping” technology, which employs lasers to transport materials.

Holodeck 

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With 3D movies and VR headsets becoming a ubiquitous part of recreation, it’s safe to say that we’ve advanced out of the realm of fiction in this case. The future of virtual reality will have a close relationship with the development of artificial intelligence. Advances in 50 years time will seem like magic.

Cyborgs

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While the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s advancements in modular prosthetic limbs are far cry from ”The Borg,” the fact that patients can now “feel” and control robotic limbs is pretty futuristic.

Ion Propulsion

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Ok, it’s not Warp Drive; faster-than-light speeds still resides in the science fiction world. NASA has been developing ion propulsion technology, which would increase interstellar travel to 90,000 miles per hour. That means there’s still no quick trip to Proxima B anytime soon.

Energy Weapons

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Yep, laser guns are definitely a thing. Military and police applications include anti-missile defense to sonic weapons for quelling protests. Sharks with laser beams attached to their heads still in the works.

Medical Tricorder

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If Dr. McCoy were a real person, he’d be the proud owner of a Fitbit. Health wearables are booming and are expected to be a $4 billion market by 2017. A device that effectively/instantly diagnoses medical conditions is still developing, but accessing real-time biometrics and readings is a reality.

Universal translator

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Instant translation, we’re there. Japanese company Logbar created a wearable device that helps “communicate with anyone with any part of  the world.” Additionally, both Google and Microsoft have developed real-time translation software for their communication platforms (Klingon not included).

We Boldly Went

Much of the technology that existed in the Trek-ian world seems laughably outdated compared to advancements of the past 50 years: personal computer and smart phones allow for instant access of information and global communication; voice-activated technology like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo enable hand-free commanded tasks; and the automated doors that seemed like magic in the Trek world are pretty much a universal convenience.

What’s certain is humanity’s ability to imagine advancements in technology outside the realm of possible, and strive to make fantasy a reality.

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