Trek inspires new tech, making Augmented Reality devilishly easy

It has been well-documented how Star Trek has influenced consumer technology and the world communications since its debut back in 1966. From the iPad to the diagnostic bed for hospitals to some early models of cell phones, it seems like designers and engineers watch Star Trek, and then hit the drawing board, to make science fiction become consumer-available fact.

Now, it looks like a company called Mojo Vision is bringing a technology seen in The Next Generation to life in a big way. This new tech will give the user access to the world of augmented reality, thanks to a paper-thin contact lens. This was seen back in 1991, on the episode “Devil’s Due.”

According to the story, Picard and the Enterprise-D are called to a planet named Ventax II after a series of quakes leaves the locals a bit upset. Apparently, a thousand years ago, the inhabitants of Ventax II made a deal with their devil, whose name was Ardra, for peace and prosperity. After this time was up, Ardra would return to take ownership of Ventax II.

Picard argues with Ardra who appears to have god-like powers — sometimes showing up in unusual places and appearing to be able to make quakes and other phenomenon happen at will. One of the best parts of the episode was when Ardra transformed into the Klingon Devil, named Fek’lhr. Worf did not appreciate that.

The Klingon Devil | Courtesy of CBS / Paramount
The Klingon Devil. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

Anyhow, long episode short, Picard figured out that Ardra was using “centuries-old technology” to trigger these fantastic tricks. She apparently was wearing contact lenses, which allowed her to select from effects. These effects, whether they were quakes, transporter tricks, or transformations, were all performed by Ardra’s crew, which was in a cloaked ship orbiting Ventax II.

Similarly, the company Mojo Vision says their “smart contact lens with a built-in display … gives you timely information without interrupting your focus.”

The lens is designed to give the user a pop-up display of their surroundings, using Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Augmented reality, is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information.

Mojo Vision, and their Senior VP for Product Marketing Steve Sinclair, say that this will allow users “to expand our perception of the physical world by adding layers of digital information on top of it.”

Mojo Vision's new lens | Courtesy of Mojo Vision
Mojo Vision’s new lens. Courtesy of Mojo Vision

Wearing Mojo Vision’s lenses won’t let you fool a planet into giving you a thousand years of servitude, but the ability for users to access information without picking up a book, computer, or cell phone could be an incredible game-changer for multiple industries worldwide.

The product is not yet for sale, and there is no “official” connection to Star Trek with the tech. But, “The Devil’s Due” aired over 30 years ago and demonstrated a type of technology that is almost exactly what is in development.

Star Trek you’ve done it again! Why didn’t they have these back when I was in high school? A contact lens networked to a computer with all the answers would have come in handy at test time!