I was a big Star Trek fan when I was younger.
I wasn't born during Star Trek's initial run (1966-1969), but I was the perfect age to appreciate all the incredible devices featured in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987-1994).
Over the years, Star Trek fans around the world have continued to be delighted by the introduction of real-life technologies that not only imitate but also improve upon those devices that once lived only in the imagination of the great science-fiction writers.
Remember, it wasn't that long ago that the idea of being able to have a video call with someone was simply preposterous...
And now we have multiple video calls every day, and we're already sick of having them.
"Zoom fatigue" is real.
But sometime in the next few years, we may be getting a communications upgrade that might refresh the way we think about long-distance communications.
Have a look at this video of Project Starline, a new technology that Google has been developing.
And while watching it, try to remember that this isn't science fiction: this actually exists, today. And it may be coming soon to a glass pane near you.
Computers shrunk in size (and cost), continuing to do so to the point where our elementary school children are now using them for online learning.
Those Star Trek "communicators" became cell phones, and those cell phones became our ubiquitous smartphones.
Instead of giving commands to "computer" like Jean-Luc Picard, we ask questions of Siri, Google, and Alexa... and they actually provide us with the answers we need more often than not. (Not coincidentally, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a well-known Trekkie. Popularizing Alexa wasn't enough, though; he's currently working on sending us to the final frontier.)
Project Starline isn't quite a transporter... but it might be the closest thing we can get to it.*
Now if somebody would only figure out those replicators.
* Over 20 years ago, I purchased and read The Physics of Star Trek, a book far more fascinating than the title might suggest. (We've already established the fact that I'm a giant nerd, right?) In the book, physics professor Lawrence M. Krauss actually explains, in detail, what would actually be necessary for us to create a transporter. He sums it up as follows: "building a transporter would require us to heat up matter to a temperature a million times the temperature at the center of the Sun, expend more energy in a single machine than all of humanity presently uses, build telescopes larger than the size of the Earth, improve present computers by a factor of 1,000 billion billion, and avoid the laws of quantum mechanics." So... Project Starline might just be as good as it gets.