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Star Wars might be getting all of the buzz and attention at the movie theaters right now, but there is another venerable sci-fi franchise that’s having a big impact in the real world.

Right now, no matter where you look, you see some new technology or product announcement that bears a striking similarity to a technology from Star Trek.

Let’s count them down. Just recently, the X Prize Foundation announced that they will soon be revealing the winners in their Tricorder challenge. That’s right, soon doctors and other health professionals will be making like Dr. McCoy and scanning patients for a whole range of health issues.

Or how about Star Trek’s universal translator, which not all that long ago people were saying would never happen. Recent announcements from Google, Microsoft, and open source groups show how powerful translation is now, making it possible to hold real-time group conversations between people who don’t speak the same language.

And probably the biggest impact in business and personal computing is the rise of artificial intelligence powered assistants. No one can have a conversation with Alexa or Siri or Cortana and not feel a little like Captain Kirk “Computer, give me all the information available on Khan Noonien Singh.”

This is important, as I believe that these AI-powered assistants will increasingly become the way that we interact with devices and services. Why pull out a phone or keyboard to type a command, search, or message when you can easily speak it and actually get the results you wanted.

And all the competition in this area, with Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, and a host of others investing in smart AIs, means that we can expect to see a lot of rapid innovation over the coming years.

Now all we need is transporters. I’d really like a way to just be able to shoot over to Italy for dinner without all of the hassles of air travel.

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