Have you ever seen a Science Fiction show and wanted a future device to be real today? Personally, I’m waiting on teleporters, but one Metrix patron decided to start somewhere a bit more possible- the tricorder. For those not familiar, the tricorder is a piece of technology found in the Star Trek universe. It examines geological, meteorological and biological data (hence, the “tri”). Probably more useful for taking readings of a newly discovered planet, but Ben Bloss is working on making it applicable for everyday Earth use. Being a fan of Star Trek, and having fond childhood memories of watching new episodes of Voyager as they aired with my sister, I was excited to learn about what his plans were for his instrument.

Of course with something like this, it can be hard to know where to start. Ben said that he’s been thinking about several uses for his tricorder, but wanted to prove the technology first with a head-up GPS display. A head-up display is a transparent display that allows you to look through it, while also looking at information presented to you on the display. His will use a piece of transparent acrylic placed in front of one eye with a repurposed rear-view head mounted mirror. On the opposite side of the head would be a small LED display reflected onto the acrylic. At first he tried placing the LED display directly in front of his eye, but he was having a hard time focusing, so he came up with this solution. When put together, it will show GPS data about your current location, course over ground and speed over ground. Once he has this proof finished (which he thinks will take a week and a half), he’s planning on working on other components. He’s already made a cell phone module which can can send information like the temperature to a phone.
I think Ben’s tricorder idea is interesting because it seems to be a perfect fit with his background. He was working as the navigation officer on an exploration ship for NOAA, which he thinks is maybe the closest thing to actually being on a Starfleet ship. I’m going to have to agree (except that maybe astronauts are closer). What better way to complete the experience than this project? He actually first thought of this when he was on the ship (he spent two years on it, so there was lots of time for thinking I’m guessing), and heard of Metrix for the first time while on the ship as well. He said there were several months of longing to come in and make something.

He was happy that Metrix allows people to put together projects so quickly, and said that it acts as a catalyst for the creative process. It seems that he has a lot of creativity in him, as he’s just come from finishing a really neat box to hold all his equipment in. I’m definitely glad to see him around the store making neat things!
What sorts of future technology would you like to see happen? How about the Star Trek communicators? A babel fish-like headpiece? Come and make them happen and impress all your nerd friends! I’m excited for the future and the nifty things that I haven’t even thought about yet. Maybe you can help the future come faster with your maker ingenuity!