Move over, smartwatches, iPhone creator Apple is working on bringing a new form of communication to the masses: Star Trek’s communicator badge.
First seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the communicator badge allows users to talk to their friends or co-workers by simply pressing a badge on their chest. In the TV show, this was the iconic Starfleet insignia.
Via Apple Insider, Apple is continuing work on bringing the sci-fi technology to the real world. Last year, patents were released showing the iPhone company’s first foray into the experimental communications tech, but the company is seemingly still trying to realise the dream.
The IRL Star Trek communicator has been scientifically dubbed “Wearable Device with Directional Audio”, which is less cool sounding. Apple’s device proposes a loudspeaker device that directs “audio waves to the ears of the user”, only allowing them to hear their friends’ responses.
“Such audio waves can be focused by a parametric array of speakers that limit audibility by others," the patent claims. "Thus, the privacy of the audio directed to the user can be maintained without requiring the user to wear audio headsets on, over, or in the ears of the user."
In patent images, Apple’s IRL Star Trek Communicator isn’t typically used a badge, but more so a necklace. Apple’s patent shows the device clipped to the collar of a T-shirt, but it claims the device can be placed anywhere and still work.
Apple’s patent claims the wearable device with directional audio is designed to combat the “obtrusive” nature of headphones. “[Headphones are] the user's ability to hear ambient sounds or simultaneously interact with others near the user,” the patent reads.
Furthermore, the new device could include a variety of sensors found in the iPhone or Apple Watch. This could include a gyroscope, accelerometer and other sensors. Move over, Apple Watch Series 9!
Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek has often been used for a barometer of future technology. Multiple teams are still working on recreating The Next Generation’s holodeck to this day. Other technology found in Star Trek includes video calling, food cloning and more.