Of all the amazing gizmos and gadgets shown in the universe of Star Trek, it's the simple things that are driving real-world breakthroughs. Researchers are working hard to make a real-life medical tricorder, for example.
The cellphone, especially the flip phone variety, was based on Kirk's iconic communicator from the original series, and it's making a comeback. And now we know that Google took a stab at the communicator badge, or "comm badge," featured in "The Next Generation" and the series that came after.
Within the show, the comm badge seems like a simple piece of technology. Just tap it, say who you want to talk to, and it opens a line of communication whether you're on the same ship or in the same solar system. "Picard to Riker," "Riker here." No problem.
Of course, in the show the comm badge also understood very vague terms, "Captain to Bridge," "Sick Bay to Bridge," and so forth, and always seemed to connect whoever needed to be talking at the moment. Plus, it often knew when to stop transmitting without being told, and functioned as a tracking device.
We know that in real life things aren't that easy. Even the technology to clearly understand voice commands is just coming arriving with personal digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, Cortana, etc.
Still, it is here now, so Google decided to unleash its inner geek. It created a prototype pin similar in size to the comm badge. Tapping it opens a voice search to Google, and it answers whatever you ask.
According to reports it works well, but sadly, Google isn't going to put it into production. It recognizes that most people are searching for things that require a screen to look at. Plus, you wouldn't really want to use it in public.
Still, the technology is there, and it might have applications in the future. At last we know it will be available by the 24th century.