star trek holodeck technology

Star Trek’s Holodeck: from science fiction to a new reality

star trek holodeck technology

Senior lecturer, RMIT University

Disclosure statement

Fabio Zambetta has received funding from the ARC (Australian Research Council) under the ARC Linkage and ARC Discovery programs.

RMIT University provides funding as a strategic partner of The Conversation AU.

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Many of the technological advances predicted in Star Trek’s fictional universe have become reality , such as the mobile communicator and hand-held tablet computers.

Others, such as tractor beams and warp drives , are still a work in progress. But what of the Holodeck ?

The Holodeck first appeared in The Practical Joker , a 1974 episode of the Star Trek animated series. It was depicted as a recreation room containing a simulated, alternative version of reality. It featured heavily in The Next Generation series and in the 1996 film First Contact .

Anyone entering the Holodeck could interact with “solid” props and characters in any scenario based on whatever parameters they programmed.

These programs are not unlike the narrative-driven, cinematic videogames we have today, such as Grand Theft Auto , Red Dead Redemption or The Witcher .

The Holodeck was a narrative device that allowed Star Trek’s writers to experiment with philosophical questions in settings not available in a typical sci-fi context.

star trek holodeck technology

It inspired several generations of computer scientists who spearheaded research in artificial intelligence, computer graphics and human-computer interaction.

The convergence of these research areas has given rise to other forms of reality on the path to the construction of a real Holodeck.

A real Holodeck?

In virtual reality ( VR ) we are fully immersed in a synthetic, “virtual” version of reality, experienced through dedicated VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive .

A typical example of VR is an immersive war game that puts a user in charge of a Roman army as Caesar, battling Vercingetorix’s Gaul troops at Alesia.

But VR has a major drawback for some applications. Being isolated from the real world, it’s not easy to engage in social interaction or physical movement in a way that feels natural to most people.

Augmented reality ( AR ) blends synthetic, virtual objects with the view of our physical reality. In AR, we can interact with virtual humans inhabiting our physical space or we can work with our children, for example, to build virtual LEGO houses on real tables in our own living rooms.

Headsets are available that allow us to create AR in our office or lounge rooms, such as the Microsoft Hololens or the Meta .

But AR headsets still suffer from several technical limitations, such as a reduced field of view. The software that lets the virtual and real worlds interact believably and naturally still needs work.

Sensing humans

Real-world Holodeck programs would also need the technology to sense human actions. This would provide useful information that the virtual personas inhabiting the Holodeck programs would use to anticipate our human intentions.

Progress here has been fast and constant, with great improvements in speech recognition and language translation, such as Apple’s Siri , Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana .

We now take almost for granted the ability to search for information with speech or to command our mobiles to schedule meetings and appointments. Other devices, originally conceived for entertainment applications, can track human gestures or even their full body posture.

For example, Microsoft Kinect can track a human body, and the technology is now included in the Hololens as its gesture-recognition component.

Lots of other sensing devices are now commonplace in mobile devices, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and temperature and pressure sensors.

The general trend is towards giving humans the ability to communicate using a combination of their body and their voice via hands-free or wearable user interfaces.

Enter the artificial intelligence

The key ingredient for Holodeck programs in the real world is the ability to equip virtual characters with sophisticated forms of artificial intelligence (AI).

star trek holodeck technology

AI and machine learning – the art of teaching a machine how to learn to perform a complex task – have seen advances in areas such as automated game playing , autonomous car driving and drone control , and deep learning .

These advances, while noteworthy, do not necessarily show strong progress towards general forms of artificial intelligence (AGI) exhibited by humans.

It has been argued that defining or providing general human intelligence may prove a very elusive problem for a long time, or indeed forever.

Fortunately, a restricted version of a Holodeck program may only require a slightly weaker, not fully general form of intelligence. This was exemplified by androids in the popular TV series reboot of Westworld .

Almost human? Close enough

The good news is that this may shorten the time needed to realise the hypothetical Holodeck programs. The bad news is that such a feat is still beyond us at this stage, although recent progress in machine learning will likely help us close the gap faster.

The question is then whether we shall ever be able to reach the level of sophistication in AR and AI needed to build a Holodeck? And if so, when?

Making predictions on such matters is not trivial, but I am inclined to think that current advances in VR and AR technologies will provide us with the required sophisticated headsets within the next five to ten years.

The question then is also whether we shall ever be able to achieve AR using alternative forms of projections that remove the need for a headset altogether.

This may be possible, eventually, but it would be irrelevant if headsets could be miniaturised and potentially implanted into human eyes, similar to what was suggested in other sci-fi classics such as Neuromancer or Snow Crash , and recently advocated by transhumanists .

The recent predictions about breakthroughs in general artificial intelligence by experts seem to converge around a date around 2040. This would put the sort of AI required for Holodeck characters somewhat earlier than that.

So I believe that one day humans will be able to experience some form of Holodeck similar to what was envisaged in Star Trek.

To paraphrase Star Teek’s infamous Borg alien race, I will say that resistance to this technological progress is futile and it will be assimilated, one day.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Science fiction
  • Augmented reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Machine learning

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An inactive Federation holodeck, pre- 2371

Voyager holodeck

An inactive Federation holodeck, post- 2371

Holodeck in Emissary

An alternate holodeck design

A holographic environment simulator , or holodeck as it was most commonly referred to, was a holographic simulation room , which was a form of holotechnology designed and used by the Federation Starfleet which ran holographic programs . They were installed aboard starships , space stations , and at Starfleet institutions during the mid- 24th century for use in entertainment, training, and investigative purposes. ( TNG : " Encounter at Farpoint ")

  • 4 Abilities and limitations
  • 5 Holoprograms
  • 6.1 Appearances
  • 6.2 Additional references
  • 6.3 Background information
  • 6.4 See also
  • 6.5 External links

History [ ]

Xyrillian holodeck

A 22nd century Xyrillian holo-chamber

Lorca and Tyler on holodeck

Captain Lorca and Lieutenant Tyler exiting a holographic combat simulation

Prior to the late 24th century , Federation starships were not equipped with holodecks. ( VOY : " Flashback ")

In 2151 , the Starfleet vessel Enterprise NX-01 encountered a vessel belonging to an alien race known as Xyrillians , who had advanced holographic technology in the form of a holographic chamber, or holo-chamber for short, which was similar to the holodeck technology commonly used by Starfleet two centuries later. ( ENT : " Unexpected ")

A holo-chamber was later installed aboard a Klingon battle cruiser after an encounter with a Xyrillian vessel discovered " hitchhiking " behind their ship. ( ENT : " Unexpected ")

In the 23rd century , the Crossfield -class vessel USS Discovery was equipped with holographic technology including holographic communications and combat training simulations. ( DIS : " Lethe ")

The recreation room aboard Constitution -class starships employed holographic technology. The USS Enterprise had a recreation room located in Area 39 of the ship. ( TAS : " The Practical Joker ")

By 2364 , the Federation Starfleet was already installing holodecks aboard their vessels. ( TNG : " Encounter at Farpoint ")

During the 2360s and 2370s , a starship could have one or more holodecks depending on the vessel's size or purpose. For example, the compact Defiant -class USS Defiant did not have a holodeck while the larger Galaxy -class USS Enterprise -D had at least seven. ( TNG : " The Perfect Mate ")

In 2366 , Data and Deanna Troi brought Lal to the holodeck in order to choose an appearance. ( TNG : " The Offspring ")

The Intrepid -class USS Voyager had at least two holodecks. The holodecks on Voyager were the only places other than sickbay where The Doctor was able to exist (prior to obtaining his mobile emitter ) after his program was modified by the crew so he wasn't so tightly tied into the sickbay's systems. ( VOY : " Night ", " Heroes and Demons ")

B'Elanna Torres used the Voyager 's holodeck for a holographic orbital skydiving session. ( VOY : " Extreme Risk ")

Prometheus -class starships were equipped with holoemitters on every deck to allow an EMH a higher level of access and free movement around the ship. ( VOY : " Message in a Bottle ")

Purpose [ ]

The most obvious function of a holodeck was to provide entertainment and diversion for a starship's crew, as they typically spent months or years on missions. Entertainment could come in many forms, with personnel able to compose their own holo programs. Users could, for example, frequent a bar, become a character in a holo-novel , engage in extreme sports, and date and have sex with holographic characters. ( TNG : " 11001001 ", " The Big Goodbye ", " Elementary, Dear Data ", " A Fistful of Datas ", " The Perfect Mate "; VOY : " The Cloud ", " Blood Fever ", " Homestead ", " Fair Haven ", " Extreme Risk ", " Body and Soul ", " Cathexis ", " Night "; LD : " Moist Vessel ")

A holodeck could be used to create training simulations and exercise environments not otherwise available or safe, including starship battle simulations, physical and combat simulations, the Bridge Officer's Test and the Kobayashi Maru scenario . ( TNG : " Code of Honor ", " Where Silence Has Lease ", " The Emissary ", " New Ground ", " Thine Own Self ", " Firstborn "; VOY : " Learning Curve ", " Extreme Risk ", " The Fight "; LD : " Terminal Provocations "; PRO : " Kobayashi ")

The holodeck (or holographic research lab ) could be used as a laboratory to aid in analysis, such as recreating the scene of a crime or accident to aid in forensic investigations. ( TNG : " A Matter of Perspective "; VOY : " Repression ") They could be used to visualize a 3D scene from alternate data sources for analysis, ( TNG : " Identity Crisis ", " Phantasms "; VOY : " Distant Origin ") or used as a brainstorming tool. ( TNG : " Schisms ", " Booby Trap ", " The Offspring ")

The holodeck could also be used to test a person's beliefs or motives by creating a program to trick them into revealing their actions. ( DS9 : " Inquisition ")

Galaxy class holodeck arch

The arch in an inactive holodeck, pre-2371

A typical holodeck consisted of a room equipped with a hologrid containing omnidirectional holographic diodes , enabling holographic projections and holograms . Elements of transporter technology and replicators were used to create holodeck matter by the manipulation of photons contained within force fields to give objects the illusion of substance as well as actual matter. This matter could exist outside of the holodeck for brief periods of time (such as snow) before they would lose cohesion and revert back to energy without the support of the hologrid. ( TNG : " Encounter at Farpoint ", " The Big Goodbye ", " Elementary, Dear Data ") Holodecks were powered by holodeck reactors . ( VOY : " Parallax ") They were also equipped with biofilters which had to be periodically removed and emptied of waste matter. As removing the filter could momentarily expel a cloud of odorous gas, this was generally considered a highly undesirable task. ( LD : " Moist Vessel ")

Holodecks had databases to store programs, holograms, and holographic templates . ( VOY : " Renaissance Man ") A holobuffer stored complex holograms when inactive. ( VOY : " Lifesigns ", " Latent Image ", " Inside Man ") Due to the ability to store highly complex energy patterns, it was possible in some cases to store a person's physical parameters from his or her transporter pattern in the holodeck database. This could, in turn, be available for use in creation of holograms. ( DS9 : " Our Man Bashir ") While viewing programs, a user could delete holocharacters using character deletion algorithms . ( DS9 : " Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang ")

Holodecks had general systems and modes of operation that were used in holographic programs. They employed spatial orientation systems to simulate parts of a holocharacter, such as left- or right-handedness. ( TNG : " Ship In A Bottle ") Holodecks could also have a program element called a perceptual filter to hide anachronisms to the program's time period, such as uniforms and communicators, in order to prevent them from raising the character's ire and curiosity. ( VOY : " Spirit Folk ") Among the viewing modes on a holodeck was objective mode , in which the user didn't interact with the characters, and subjective mode , in which the viewer could interact with the characters as well as alter his or her surroundings. ( ENT : " These Are the Voyages... ") Holodecks could be equipped to change gravity in three dimensions. ( VOY : " Extreme Risk ")

The holodeck could be controlled from an exterior control panel, the interior arch control, or through bridge control relays in some designs. The arch could be summoned at any time to change the parameters of a running holoprogram . Matter and energy were interchangeable as such objects created on the holodeck could be either matter or energy. ( TNG : " Elementary, Dear Data "; VOY : " Heroes and Demons ", " The Killing Game "; Star Trek: Insurrection ) Holodecks included components such as bi-converter interfaces . ( TNG : " The Big Goodbye ")

Riker Jungle Holodeck 2364

William T. Riker entering a holodeck simulation in 2364

When a user experienced a holographic environment, the holodeck walls could generate holographic images that appeared to extend for an unlimited distance, seemingly much larger than its own dimensions. The walls could be revealed if someone took an unexpected action in the program which hit the wall, for example if a person were to throw a holographic rock at the walls and the program was not able to react to show the rock continuing into the holographic image it created. ( TNG : " Encounter at Farpoint ")

End program

A holodeck program in the process of shutting down

Holodecks were equipped with safety protocols to prevent serious injury during their use, though these could be disengaged by the user when required. When protocols were deactivated, holographic obstacles had the same effects on a person as the objects or instances they simulated; holographic bullets or a steep drop could be fatal in such a scenario. ( TNG : " The Big Goodbye "; Star Trek: First Contact ; VOY : " Extreme Risk ")

How the security protocols were circumvented differed; in one instance, it required the voice authorization of two senior officers , ( TNG : " Descent ") while in others the authorization of the individual such as the ship's captain, or the person who started the program was enough. ( VOY : " Extreme Risk ") Safety protocols could also be unintentionally disabled due to software errors or physical damage to the holodeck's hardware system. The status of safety protocols could be reviewed by the computer upon the request of an operator. A tricorder could also be used within the holodeck to query the current safety protocol status.

While it was noted by Geordi La Forge that there was no specific prohibition against creating images of people that existed in reality, some people such as Commander William Riker and Leah Brahms would take offense to people doing so. Lieutenant Barclay apparently had no problem creating holograms of the Enteprise D's crew, while Quark did not have easy access to Major/Colonel Kira's image in a program to rent to one of his customers.

Abilities and limitations [ ]

By the 2370s, holodeck technology was able to have fine enough control over magnetic containment fields that holographic objects could interact with matter on a biologically small level, for example, in replacing a person's organ with a simulated one that mimicked its functionality. ( VOY : " Phage ")

The computer used large magnetic bubbles to simulate surfaces and textures rather than creating an object at the molecular level. However, objects created within the holodeck did not exist beyond the holodeck itself, as they only existed as energy . ( TNG : " The Big Goodbye ") Holodecks also had access to extensive databases and archives and could recreate most historical scenes nearly exactly as they had occurred according to official records. This included material sometimes down to the smallest details, such as casual conversations by random people in public places, although in certain recreations the character names and appearances were slightly changed. ( TNG : " We'll Always Have Paris ")

Since holodeck technology could be used with replicator technology, there were some instances where real objects were replicated within the holodeck and used to interact with the holographic program and/or users for a more realistic experience; since these objects were real material composed of matter, they could leave the holodeck fully intact. Examples of this include Wesley Crusher still being wet after leaving the holodeck after falling into replicated water, ( TNG : " Encounter at Farpoint ") Lieutenant Commander Data being able to take a drawing of the Enterprise on a piece of paper out into the hallway, ( TNG : " Elementary, Dear Data ") and a wayward snowball being able to pass through the holodeck doors and strike Captain Picard. ( TNG : " Angel One ") Scents were also simulated in this way.

A holodeck could also modify the appearance of persons within it.

  • The holoprogram depicting the final mission of the NX-class starship Enterprise NX-01 could project uniforms suitable to the participants' role over them. ( ENT : " These Are the Voyages... ")
  • A holodeck was able to superimpose an entirely different appearance over a participant. ( TNG : " The Offspring ")
  • Tom Paris ' holoprogram Captain Proton existed as a monochromatic environment. ( VOY : " Night ", " Bride of Chaotica! ")
  • As part of The Big Good-Bye , appropriate attire could be projected over participants of the program. ( Star Trek: First Contact )
  • Simulations could also be projected inside living organisms, including that of pregnancy . ( VOY : " The Killing Game ")
  • B'Elanna Torres ' leg appeared to dematerialize while she was participating in the holonovel Photons Be Free as the holographic main character. ( VOY : " Author, Author ")
  • Seven of Nine used the holodeck to hide her cybernetic implants. ( VOY : " Human Error ")

Holograms could be augmented with force beams to simulate solid, tangible objects or with replicator technology to create actual solid matter such as foodstuffs . All food eaten on the holodeck were replications. No other type of simulation could survive outside of the holodeck. ( citation needed • edit )

A holodeck also had the ability to create holodecks within holodecks, and holodeck programs were able to be saved to a tech cube that could be inserted into an enhancement module to form an optronic data core with information to "last a lifetime." ( TNG : " Ship In A Bottle ")

The holodeck reactor , which powered the holodeck on 24th century Federation starships like Voyager , was incompatible with other ship systems. ( VOY : " Parallax ")

Failure of a holodeck's matter conversion subsystem could cause the loss of solid objects within the holodeck environment. Materialization errors occurred in the USS Enterprise -D holodecks in 2370 following the ship's exposure to plasmonic energy in the atmosphere of the planet Boraal II . ( TNG : " Homeward ")

Even though holographically created characters, just like characters in a story book, were never self-aware and never knew that they were not real, there were a few rare instances in which that rule did not hold true. During a Sherlock Holmes holodeck simulation in the late 2360s , Geordi La Forge and Doctor Katherine Pulaski argued that playing with Data was impossible and unfair to them as he had memorized all the Sherlock Holmes novels and could easily solve the cases. In order to level the playing field, La Forge requested that the holodeck create an opponent intelligent enough to defeat Data.

Even though La Forge meant Holmes, his request had specifically noted Data. As a result, the holodeck created a self-aware holographic character of James Moriarty who was not only fully aware of his own consciousness, but who subsequently argued that he had a right to exist and leave the holodeck to pursue his life as he wished. ( TNG : " Elementary, Dear Data ", " Ship In A Bottle ") Another holographic writer, known as Felix , created the fully self-aware program of Vic Fontaine for the crew of Deep Space 9 , Vic being completely aware of his holographic nature despite being a 1960s lounge singer, often offering the crew personal advice on relationship issues. ( DS9 : " His Way ", " Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang ", " It's Only a Paper Moon ")

Holoprograms [ ]

Enterprise, sailing brig, 2371

The brig Enterprise holoprogram

Starships with a holodeck normally had a vast list of holoprograms in their computer . Several notable programs aboard the USS Enterprise -D included:

  • A woodland setting, resembling Earth, which featured rock-jumping challenges, some of which were seemingly impossible to complete. ( TNG : " Encounter at Farpoint ")
  • A New Orleans jazz nightclub . ( TNG : " 11001001 ")
  • A recreation of the voyage on the Orient Express . ( TNG : " Emergence ")
  • Sherlock Holmes mysteries, in which the user assumed the role of Sherlock Holmes and/or Dr. Watson ( TNG : " Elementary, Dear Data ", " Ship In A Bottle ")
  • Prospero's island, decor for Shakespeare 's The Tempest . ( TNG : " Emergence ")
  • The Valley of Chula on Romulus ( TNG : " The Defector ")
  • Café des Artistes – "Enjoy a meal at a French cafe." ( TNG : " We'll Always Have Paris ")
  • Charnock's Comedy Cabaret – "Laugh in a 20th century comedy club." ( TNG : " The Outrageous Okona ")
  • The Big Good-Bye – "The 1940s world of gumshoe detective Dixon Hill ." ( TNG : " The Big Goodbye ", " Manhunt ", " Clues ")
  • Cliffs of Heaven – "From planet Sumiko IV , a safe experience." ( TNG : " Conundrum ")
  • Equestrian Adventure – " Horse riding in an open country..." ( TNG : " Pen Pals ")
  • Karate Dojo – Shown by Tasha Yar to the Ligonians before she was kidnapped. ( TNG : " Code of Honor ")
  • Lieutenant Worf's Klingon calisthenics program – a swamp -like setting in which various alien enemies tested ones fighting skill. ( TNG : " Where Silence Has Lease ", " The Emissary ", " New Ground ")
  • The bridge of the USS Enterprise – the user could select any of the five (at the time) bridges of the various Federation starships named Enterprise to view. Captain Montgomery Scott only wanted to see the original Enterprise bridge, "no bloody A , B , C , or D ." ( TNG : " Relics ")
  • The Final Mission of Enterprise – this program allowed a user to view or take part in the final mission of the NX-01 Enterprise , commanded by Captain Jonathan Archer , as well as showcasing the signing of the Federation Charter . ( ENT : " These Are the Voyages... ")
  • Natasha Yar 's Living Will – designed by Lieutenant Natasha Yar to be played in the event she was killed, where she bid farewell to her comrades. The Enterprise bridge crew unfortunately had to watch the program when Yar was killed by Armus on Vagra II . ( TNG : " Skin Of Evil ")
  • Celtris III Underground – a simulation in which the users could prepare for missions on the Cardassian planet of Celtris III. ( TNG : " Chain Of Command, Part I ")
  • Lieutenant Barclay 's various programs – these included a mock-up of Ten Forward , in which the user could attack Commander Riker and Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge to "blow off some steam" as well as win the heart of Deanna Troi ; a mock-up of Counselor Troi's office in which the user could receive counseling from a hologram rather than the real Troi; a woodland setting in which the user could duel with recreations of Captain Picard , Data , and La Forge in a sword fight, complete with a recreation of Deanna Troi as "The Goddess of Empathy"; a mock-up of the Enterprise -D bridge, in which the user could bid farewell to the bridge crew; the Einstein program in which the user could debate mathematics and science with Albert Einstein ; a synaptic interface in which the user could control the main computer of the Enterprise with the power of their own thoughts (however, removal of the user by conventional means would result in death); and various other programs. ( TNG : " Hollow Pursuits ", " The Nth Degree ")
  • A game of poker with three famous scientific minds: Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton , and Stephen Hawking . ( TNG : " Descent ")
  • USS Enterprise – an 18th century Earth brig . ( Star Trek Generations )

Notable programs aboard the USS Enterprise -E included:

  • The Big Good-Bye – "The 1940s world of gumshoe detective Dixon Hill ." ( Star Trek: First Contact )
  • Café des Artistes – "Enjoy a meal at a French cafe." ( Star Trek: First Contact )
  • Champs Elysees – "Famous section of Paris ." ( Star Trek: First Contact )
  • Charnock's Comedy Cabaret – "Laugh in a 20th century comedy club." ( Star Trek: First Contact )
  • Emerald Wading Pool – "From planet Sumiko III , a safe experience." ( Star Trek: First Contact )
  • Equestrian Adventure – " Horse riding in an open countryside with a choice of..." ( Star Trek: First Contact )

Notable programs aboard the USS Voyager included:

  • Chez Sandrine ( VOY : " The Cloud ")
  • Janeway Lambda One ( VOY : " Learning Curve ")
  • Paxau Resort ( VOY : " Warlord ")
  • Insurrection Alpha ( VOY : " Worst Case Scenario ")
  • Leonardo da Vinci's workshop ( VOY : " Scorpion ")
  • The Adventures of Flotter ( VOY : " Once Upon a Time ")
  • Velocity ( VOY : " Hope and Fear ")
  • The Adventures of Captain Proton ( VOY : " Night ")
  • Fair Haven ( VOY : " Fair Haven ")
  • Photons Be Free ( VOY : " Author, Author ")
  • Holographic family ( VOY : " Real Life ")

Notable programs aboard the USS Protostar included:

  • Andoria IV ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • Ceti Alpha V ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • kal-if-fee gladiatorial match ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • Count Dracula ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • Janeway Lambda One ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • Deadwood , South Dakota ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • Paxau Resort ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • Kobayashi Maru scenario ( PRO : " Kobayashi ")
  • Fox, chicken and grain problem ( PRO : " Time Amok ")

Notable programs aboard the USS Enterprise 's recreation room included:

  • A beach setting allowing for swimming.
  • A woodland environment allowing for a nature walk.
  • An arctic wasteland.
  • An 18th century style hedge maze . ( TAS : " The Practical Joker ")

Appendices [ ]

Appearances [ ].

  • " The Practical Joker " (Season 2)
  • " Encounter at Farpoint " (Pilot, Season 1)
  • " Code of Honor "
  • " The Big Goodbye "
  • " 11001001 "
  • " Coming of Age "
  • " Skin Of Evil "
  • " We'll Always Have Paris "
  • " Where Silence Has Lease " (Season 2)
  • " Elementary, Dear Data "
  • " The Dauphin "
  • " The Icarus Factor "
  • " Pen Pals "
  • " Manhunt "
  • " The Emissary "
  • " Shades of Gray " (recycled footage)
  • " Booby Trap " (Season 3)
  • " The Defector "
  • " A Matter of Perspective "
  • " The Offspring "
  • " Hollow Pursuits "
  • " Family " (Season 4)
  • " Future Imperfect "
  • " Data's Day "
  • " Devil's Due "
  • " Galaxy's Child "
  • " Identity Crisis "
  • " The Nth Degree "
  • " New Ground " (Season 5)
  • " Cost Of Living "
  • " The Perfect Mate "
  • " Relics " (Season 6)
  • " Schisms "
  • " A Fistful of Datas "
  • " Chain Of Command, Part I "
  • " Ship In A Bottle "
  • " Rightful Heir "
  • " Descent "
  • " Phantasms " (Season 7)
  • " Inheritance "
  • " Homeward "
  • " Thine Own Self "
  • " Firstborn "
  • " Bloodlines "
  • " Emergence "
  • " All Good Things... "
  • " Emissary " (Season 1)
  • " Inquisition " (Season 6)
  • Star Trek Generations
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • " The Cloud " (Season 1)
  • " Heroes and Demons "
  • " Cathexis "
  • " Learning Curve "
  • " Projections " (Season 2)
  • " Twisted "
  • " Parturition "
  • " Persistence of Vision "
  • " Threshold "
  • " Lifesigns "
  • " The Swarm " (Season 3)
  • " Warlord "
  • " The Q and the Grey "
  • " Macrocosm "
  • " Alter Ego "
  • " Blood Fever "
  • " Darkling "
  • " Before and After "
  • " Real Life "
  • " Distant Origin "
  • " Displaced "
  • " Worst Case Scenario "
  • " Scorpion "
  • " Scorpion, Part II " (Season 4)
  • " Day of Honor "
  • " The Raven "
  • " Scientific Method "
  • " Concerning Flight "
  • " Mortal Coil "
  • " The Killing Game "
  • " The Killing Game, Part II "
  • " Vis à Vis "
  • " The Omega Directive "
  • " Hope and Fear "
  • " Night " (Season 5)
  • " Extreme Risk "
  • " Once Upon a Time "
  • " Timeless "
  • " Nothing Human "
  • " Thirty Days "
  • " Latent Image "
  • " Bride of Chaotica! "
  • " Dark Frontier "
  • " The Fight "
  • " Someone to Watch Over Me "
  • " Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy " (Season 6)
  • " Pathfinder "
  • " Fair Haven "
  • " Spirit Folk "
  • " Life Line "
  • " Imperfection " (Season 7)
  • " Repression "
  • " Inside Man "
  • " Body and Soul "
  • " Flesh and Blood "
  • " Shattered "
  • " Lineage "
  • " Prophecy "
  • " Human Error "
  • " Author, Author "
  • " Renaissance Man "
  • " These Are the Voyages... " (Season 4)
  • " Lethe " (Season 1)
  • " Second Contact " (Season 1)
  • " Moist Vessel "
  • " Terminal Provocations "
  • " Crisis Point "
  • " wej Duj " (Season 2)
  • " Room for Growth " (Season 3)
  • " Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus "
  • " Twovix " (Season 4)
  • " I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee "
  • " Something Borrowed, Something Green "
  • " Old Friends, New Planets "
  • " Kobayashi " (Season 1)
  • " Time Amok "
  • " A Moral Star, Part 2 "
  • " Let Sleeping Borg Lie "
  • " Ghost in the Machine "
  • " No Win Scenario " (Season 3)
  • " Imposters "
  • " The Bounty "

Additional references [ ]

  • " The Measure Of A Man " (Season 2)
  • " Evolution " (Season 3)
  • " Captain's Holiday "
  • " The Loss " (Season 4)
  • " The Game " (Season 5)
  • " Conundrum "
  • " Imaginary Friend "
  • " Man Of The People " (Season 6)
  • " Liaisons " (Season 7)
  • " The Way of the Warrior " (Season 4)
  • " Parallax " (Season 1)
  • " Prime Factors "
  • " Non Sequitur " (Season 2)
  • " Investigations "
  • " Deadlock "
  • " The Thaw "
  • " Basics, Part I "
  • " Flashback " (Season 3)
  • " Remember "
  • " Future's End "
  • " Revulsion " (Season 4)
  • " Waking Moments "
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  • " Living Witness "
  • " Relativity " (Season 5)
  • " Equinox "
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Background information [ ]

Hoerter with holodeck model

Dennis Hoerter with a holodeck model at Image G

Matter of Perspective remastering

The remastering of a holodeck scene from "A Matter of Perspective"

The concept of the holodeck originated in 1968 , when Gene Roddenberry came up with the idea of a "simulated outdoor recreation area" on the Enterprise for the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series . This idea never came to fruition, probably because of budget constraints. ( Inside Star Trek: The Real Story , p. 404) The idea was later used in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode " The Practical Joker ", which was basically the first appearance of the holodeck, then called a " recreation room ". It came to existence in live-action production in the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation . Its inclusion in that series was originally proposed by Robert H. Justman , who initially thought of and suggested it as a place where crew members could be "psychically connected" with their homeworld. ( Starlog issue 115, p. 71)

In early episodes of TNG, the series' production staff had an unwritten rule that the floors in a holodeck simulation shouldn't go below the floor level of the holodeck's door. This made sense, as burrowing down to the deck below would probably be inadvisable on a starship. Subsequent story requirements and set designs eventually influenced producers to alter their "rule," deciding that at least one holodeck was a multi-story chamber. ( text commentary , Star Trek Generations  (Special Edition) DVD )

The appearance of the holodeck on TNG was affected by having limited finances. Production Designer Herman Zimmerman commented, " We were in a budget constraint that made us do a set that is a wireframe look. " Zimmerman and other members of the design team that worked on TNG had a long-standing interest in demonstrating the machinery of the holodeck from inside the room, though this was not made possible until the advent of the Cardassian holosuite in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine . ( The Deep Space Log Book: A Second Season Companion )

Despite the fact that the Galaxy -class starship was meant to have numerous holodecks, a single set represented these environments on TNG. This was one of the last sets to be built for the show and was also used to represent the Galaxy -class cargo bays , shuttlebays , and gymnasium . ( Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion  (3rd ed., p. 10))

The holodeck arch was a prop that was originally made for TNG : " Haven ". Although some holodeck programs incorporated the arch to make the task of finding the way out easier, the arch originated as a way to let outsiders know when it was safe or appropriate to enter. ( text commentary , Star Trek Generations  (Special Edition) DVD ) The same arch set piece was featured in both TNG and the film Star Trek Generations . ( Cinefex , No. 61, p. 69)

Holodeck door

The exterior of an Intrepid -class holodeck, mid- 2371

For its first appearance on Star Trek: Voyager in " The Cloud ", the exterior of the holodeck was the same set piece as had previously been seen on TNG, right down to the octagonal door frame, although all had been repainted to match the color scheme for the new Voyager corridors. It did not receive a square door arch and updated door panels until its second appearance.

There are many discrepancies between episodes pertaining to the abilities and limits of holodeck technology. For example, in " Encounter at Farpoint ", the young Wesley Crusher remains wet with holodeck water, after exiting into a corridor. In " Elementary, Dear Data ", a piece of paper given to Data by James Moriarty is able to be carried outside of the holodeck and into a hall, but upon Moriarty's return in " Ship In A Bottle ", a book thrown outside of the holodeck instantly disappears.

Also, in " The Big Goodbye ", Cyrus Redblock and Felix Leech disappear slowly after a few moments outside of the holodeck, although a lipstick smudge from a holographic character stays with Picard all the way onto the bridge. Although these inconsistencies can be partially explained by the difference in the types of objects leaving the holodeck, it still leaves quite a few questions about what exactly constitutes the differences. The holodeck can use a degree of replication to make realistic objects for the holodeck occupant to use, so there is a possibility of the computer replicating a real piece of paper with the picture on, as it would be a relatively simple pattern.

Some may argue that another discrepancy is the need for holodeck users to change into the appropriate costumes before entering and leaving the holodeck, since the holodeck has the ability to change the appearance of its users (established in ENT : " These Are the Voyages... "). But this may just be an issue of taste, on the user's possible preference of replicated clothes versus holographic clothes. Another theory is that the settings of the holodeck can be altered to not only make weapons be lethal as seen in Star Trek: First Contact in which Picard kills the Borg in a ballroom suite with a machine gun but also to make what events transpired inside it real life like the aforementioned lipstick smudge on Picard

Actor Robert O'Reilly once remarked that, when he appeared as Scarface in TNG : " Manhunt ", he "really didn't understand the holodeck." ( The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine  issue 16 , p. 24)

Ultimately, it is evident to longtime viewers of the Star Trek franchise that the holodeck is a storytelling device, like many other aspects of the shows, and only behaves consistently within narrative bounds.

From the Star Trek Encyclopedia  (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 344), "Star Trek writer-producer Ronald D. Moore argued that in a free society of responsible citizens, there should be little or no limit on what an adult can do in a holodeck. Even if others might find certain activities objectionable, what one does in one's private space is no one's business; certainly not the government 's. Of the argument that certain activities should be prohibited on the grounds that they might be harmful or addictive to a holodeck participant, Moore suggested that in a free society, a responsible adult must be permitted to judge risks to his or her own well-being, and to act accordingly. Moore conceded that there might well be circumstances in which someone might object to being replicated on a holodeck, but notes that it would be extremely difficult to define legally what constituted fair use and what was abusive. (Moore emphasized that he referred to holodeck usage by adults, not by children.) "

The holodeck is one of the prominent examples of Star Trek predicting technology, like VR, MR, and AR.

See also [ ]

  • Computer-generated imagery
  • Federation holoship
  • Holoprogram
  • Holotechnology
  • Synaptic stimulator
  • Visual simulator

External links [ ]

  • Holodeck at Memory Beta , the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
  • Holodeck at Wikipedia
  • 1 Daniels (Crewman)

Star Trek: How Does Holodeck Technology Work?


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Star Trek: The Temporal War, Explained

Lord of the rings: 7 strongest dragons, ranked, the simpsons: 6 ways the show could finally end.

In the wild and wonderful world(s) of Star Trek, one of the biggest core elements has to be the futuristic technology dreamed up by the creative writing team. While the majority of these seem unachievable, some of them have actually steered the creation of technology that people now use on a near-daily basis .

Of all the incredible things Star Trek has shown, none is potentially more alluring and incredible than that of the holodeck. This seemingly impossible creation acts as the cornerstone for many TNG plot lines. But how exactly is this tech supposed to work?

RELATED: Star Trek: Exploring The Borg’s Creepiest Weakness

While the holodeck is an incredible piece of technology, it is really more of a plot device than an actual fully functioning, and fictionally scientific creation. This is in contrast to something like the franchise's warp drive , which is totally fictional, but it has a solid grounding in fictional science. The warp drive can be explained (granted, using made up concepts, materials, and science). It makes sense within the universe. Holodecks, much like transporters , have never been fully explained, and often they conflict with other previously stated information provided with the audience. This is often the way with such a massive universe like Star Trek, which has had multitude of writers over the course of multiple decades.

The holodeck is, conceptually, a fairly simple bit of kit. It allows the users to fabricate any environment and situation their mind can dream up (or more accurately, that their hands can code). It is primarily a form of entertainment. While it can be used for training exercises to test real life situations and scenarios, its main purpose is to allow crew members to unwind and have fun. It can be used to create relaxing spas, Olympic stadiums to work out in, and most importantly for the writers, to dream up wacky situations for the protagonists to come up against. The heroes of the show have battled holodeck foes such as holographic Moriarty's and space Nazis. These are obviously less relaxing for the crew, often putting them in real peril. But as a foundation for an entertaining episode, the holodeck is the perfect bouncing board.

There are four primary cornerstones for how the holodeck works. The most important of these is the hologram itself. Throughout the years, Star Trek has had fun playing around with the idea of holographic lifeforms , and whether they can gain sentience or actually be ‘alive.’ But for the fundamentals of the holodeck, these holograms are much more simplistic. Unless tampered with, they are usually lacking in the sentience department. They are 3-dimensional images controlled by the holodeck computer, wrapped in a type of force field that simulates the feeling of physicality. The EHD (Emergency Holographic Doctor) from Voyager, while a much more complex hologram, works on the same fundamentals. He can deactivate his force field to allow objects and others to pass straight through him. Holograms are not inherently physical; they are more like a highly intricate assortment of light.

The second important element of a holodeck is the AI. This is the computer intelligence ( much more advanced than ones found today ) that creates the holodeck simulations. While more complex simulations require a person to write out the code and script, most of the time, the computer is able to create stories, situations, environments, all from the simple verbal commands of its user. It can take these commands and create an entire program based upon often vague suggestions. There is also primitive (at least, primitive for the minds of the future) AI found within the holograms, giving them their character and allowing them to react naturally to whatever the holodeck does. This is where things often get dicey, with the AI becoming self-aware under specific circumstances.

The built-in replicator is also an important element of the holodeck. Most of the objects found within the simulation are just holograms (like furniture and tools). However, some are actually physical, real things. Food and drink is a prime example of this. Users can eat using holographic plates, knives and forks, on a dining table made from light, but actually consume real, nutritious, and tasty food. It’s the same technology used for the replicators elsewhere on the ship, able to create any non-living object .

Finally, the holodeck also uses a combination of treadmills (though that name makes them sound far more rudimentary than they are) and blended light to give the illusion of distance. The holodeck itself is fairly small. While distance can be fabricated easily using holograms, actually walking off into the sunset for miles and miles is only possible using the treadmills built into the floor of the space. The user would largely remain in the center of the room, with the holographic simulations moving around them. If there is more than one person using the holodeck at once, then, upon spreading out, they are sectioned into their own, smaller holographic space.

While these are fundamentals of how the holodeck works, It's impossible to go into any real depth into the fiction technology, and exploring how exactly the computer is able to create the simulations. If it were, maybe holographic technology might be something possible today. But as it stands, the writers have never been able to flesh it out properly. Perhaps as more and more Star Trek programs are added to the franchise, and the universe continues to be fleshed out by programs such as Discovery, Picard and Strange New Worlds the technology will finally be given a proper scientific grounding. But until then, it remains one of the best, and most desirable, examples of science fiction ‘magic’.

MORE: Star Trek: How This Deep Space 9 Episode Changed The Franchise Forever

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Engineers recreate Star Trek's Holodeck using ChatGPT and video game assets

by Ian Scheffler, University of Pennsylvania

Penn Engineers recreate Star Trek's Holodeck using ChatGPT and video game assets

In "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Captain Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise leverage the Holodeck, an empty room capable of generating 3D environments, of preparing for missions and entertaining them, simulating everything from lush jungles to the London of Sherlock Holmes.

Deeply immersive and fully interactive, Holodeck-created environments are infinitely customizable, using nothing but language; the crew has only to ask the computer to generate an environment, and that space appears in the Holodeck.

Today, virtual interactive environments are also used to train robots prior to real-world deployment in a process called "Sim2Real." However, virtual interactive environments have been in surprisingly short supply.

"Artists manually create these environments," says Yue Yang, a doctoral student in the labs of Mark Yatskar and Chris Callison-Burch, Assistant and Associate Professors in Computer and Information Science (CIS), respectively. "Those artists could spend a week building a single environment," Yang adds, noting all the decisions involved, from the layout of the space to the placement of objects to the colors employed in rendering.

That paucity of virtual environments is a problem if you want to train robots to navigate the real world with all its complexities. Neural networks, the systems powering today's AI revolution, require massive amounts of data, which in this case means simulations of the physical world.

"Generative AI systems like ChatGPT are trained on trillions of words, and image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E are trained on billions of images," says Callison-Burch. "We only have a fraction of that amount of 3D environments for training so-called 'embodied AI.' If we want to use generative AI techniques to develop robots that can safely navigate in real-world environments, then we will need to create millions or billions of simulated environments."

Enter Holodeck , a system for generating interactive 3D environments co-created by Callison-Burch, Yatskar, Yang and Lingjie Liu, Aravind K. Joshi Assistant Professor in CIS, along with collaborators at Stanford, the University of Washington, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2). Named for its Star Trek forebear, Holodeck generates a virtually limitless range of indoor environments, using AI to interpret users' requests.

The paper is published on the arXiv preprint server.

"We can use language to control it," says Yang. "You can easily describe whatever environments you want and train the embodied AI agents."

Holodeck leverages the knowledge embedded in large language models (LLMs), the systems underlying ChatGPT, and other chatbots. "Language is a very concise representation of the entire world," says Yang. Indeed, LLMs turn out to have a surprisingly high degree of knowledge about the design of spaces, thanks to the vast amounts of text they ingest during training. In essence, Holodeck works by engaging an LLM in conversation, using a carefully structured series of hidden queries to break down user requests into specific parameters.

Just like Captain Picard might ask Star Trek's Holodeck to simulate a speakeasy, researchers can ask Penn's Holodeck to create "a 1b1b apartment of a researcher who has a cat." The system executes this query by dividing it into multiple steps: First, the floor and walls are created, then the doorway and windows.

Next, Holodeck searches Objaverse , a vast library of premade digital objects, for the sort of furnishings you might expect in such a space: a coffee table, a cat tower, and so on. Finally, Holodeck queries a layout module, which the researchers designed to constrain the placement of objects so that you don't wind up with a toilet extending horizontally from the wall.

To evaluate Holodeck's abilities, in terms of their realism and accuracy, the researchers generated 120 scenes using both Holodeck and ProcTHOR, an earlier tool created by AI2, and asked several hundred Penn Engineering students to indicate their preferred version, not knowing which scenes were created by which tools. For every criterion—asset selection, layout coherence, and overall preference—the students consistently rated the environments generated by Holodeck more favorably.

The researchers also tested Holodeck's ability to generate scenes that are less typical in robotics research and more difficult to manually create than apartment interiors, like stores, public spaces, and offices. Comparing Holodeck's outputs to those of ProcTHOR, which were generated using human-created rules rather than AI-generated text, the researchers found once again that human evaluators preferred the scenes created by Holodeck. That preference held across a wide range of indoor environments, from science labs to art studios, locker rooms to wine cellars.

Finally, the researchers used scenes generated by Holodeck to "fine-tune" an embodied AI agent. "The ultimate test of Holodeck," says Yatskar, "is using it to help robots interact with their environment more safely by preparing them to inhabit places they've never been before."

Across multiple types of virtual spaces, including offices, daycares, gyms and arcades, Holodeck had a pronounced and positive effect on the agent's ability to navigate new spaces.

For instance, whereas the agent successfully found a piano in a music room only about 6% of the time when pre-trained using ProcTHOR (which involved the agent taking about 400 million virtual steps), the agent succeeded over 30% of the time when fine-tuned using 100 music rooms generated by Holodeck.

"This field has been stuck doing research in residential spaces for a long time," says Yang. "But there are so many diverse environments out there—efficiently generating a lot of environments to train robots has always been a big challenge, but Holodeck provides this functionality."

In June, the researchers will present Holodeck at the 2024 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Computer Vision Foundation (CVF) Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) Conference in Seattle, Washington.


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The Untold Truth Of Star Trek Holograms

Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard

Ask anyone what piece of " Star Trek " technology they'd like to own, and odds are most people will want a personal holodeck. First introduced in " Star Trek: The Next Generation ," the holodeck immerses you in an artificial reality full of holograms designed to look, sound, feel, smell, and even taste like anything — or any one — you can imagine.

Just consider the possibilities. Sure, warp drive and transporters can take you to strange new worlds, but given how dangerous a lot of those alien planets can be, most people would probably want to have safer adventures in a simulated environment.

But before you program your next holo-adventure or design a holographic companion, you might want to read this article. Not only are holodecks a lot more dangerous than you think, there are plenty of ethical ramifications involved in using holodecks as your personal pleasure zone. For those interested in learning more about this incredible but controversial technology, here is the untold truth of "Star Trek" holograms.

The Holodeck Was Influenced by Real-Life Holography Experiments

Trekkies may have first seen the holodeck in 1987 when the pilot episode of " Star Trek: The Next Generation " first aired, but the genesis of this technology actually goes all the way back to 1973, when "Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry met with  holographer expert Gene Dolgoff .

A lifelong "Star Trek" fan and the inventor of the first LCD projector, Dolgoff was already doing experiments in holography during the early 1960s and corresponding with science fiction legends like Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison. One of his papers on a holographic model of the universe led to him doing some work with psychic researcher Melanie Toyofuku, who introduced Dolgoff to Roddenberry.

Dolgoff introduced Roddenberry to his concept of "matter holograms" based on a recording of the interference patterns of energy that could also be the basis for teleportation and food replicators. His ideas excited Roddenberry, who was thrilled that such technology might be developed in the future, and the two came up with the term "holodeck" for a recreation room that used matter holograms.

Roddenberry would later make the holodeck an integral part of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," although Dolgoff was disappointed he wasn't mentioned in the movies or TV episodes as  the man who invented the holodeck . Nevertheless, Roddenberry did later invite Dolgoff and his wife to play guest captain and Vulcan science officer on a  taped "Star Trek" rehearsal with the original cast that later surfaced on the Internet.

Holodecks Can Produce Real Matter

Many "Star Trek" characters claim that a hologram is just a projection of light given the illusion of substance thanks to a force field. However, this isn't entirely true.

During the holodeck's first appearance in the Season 1 episode "Encounter at Farpoint," Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) explains to Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) that many of the holodeck's simulations are the result of energy being manipulated into solid matter using technology similar to the Enterprise's transporters. This explanation follows holographer Gene Dolgoff's definition of "matter holograms" and is emphasized when Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) falls into a simulated stream and exits the holodeck dripping wet.

However, in later episodes and other "Star Trek” shows, "holodeck matter" is shown to have no substance outside of the holodeck and quickly dissipates into energy once out of range of the holographic projectors. Nevertheless, as "Star Trek” replicators can create actual food (along with solid plates and eating utensils) from energy using a procedure similar to the process Data described, it's been established that the holodeck uses this technology to create some "real" substances that aren't composed of just photons and force fields.

Holograms Can Be Used as Organ Replacements

While the reality or unreality of holograms has often been debated, one starship crew member found his very life dependent on the simulated matter when he used them to replace some missing organs.

In the " Star Trek: Voyager " Season 1 episode "Phage," the ship's cook and guide Neelix (Ethan Phillips) gets his lungs removed by the Vidiians, an alien species whose bodies are falling apart due to a disease called the phage. To save him, Voyager's Emergency Medical Hologram Doctor (Robert Picardo) constructs a set of holographic lungs for Neelix, taking advantage of a hologram's ability to become solid or intangible and let oxygen pass through it.

The operation is a success — although until Neelix receives an actual lung transplant he's forced to remain immobilized since holomatter still can't exist outside of the holographic emitters simulating his organs. Oddly enough, since lungs also perform chemical exchanges between the blood and the air, this would indicate the holographic lungs were more than simple mechanical devices (unless Neelix's alien physiology only needs mechanical lungs).

Organic Beings Can Become Holograms

Creating holographic lungs for a dying patient might have seemed like a medical miracle, but that's nothing compared to the time the Doctor created an entire holographic body for a sick patient that restored her to full health. In the "Star Trek: Voyager" Season 2 episode "Lifesigns," the Doctor encounters Denara Pel (Susan Diol), a Vidiian scientist dying from the phage disease afflicting her people.

Realizing that Denara's synaptic patterns are stored in a bio-neural implant within her brain, the Doctor decides to transfer the patterns into Voyager's holobuffer and create a holographic body for her. Essentially, he uploads her consciousness into a fully functioning holographic body that looks and feels perfectly healthy.

Although Denara needs to return to her diseased body within a week because her mind cannot survive for long in a computer — and she cannot leave sickbay or the holodeck without losing her simulated body — she is, for all intents and purposes, cured of her debilitating condition by becoming a hologram.

Holograms Can Become Sentient

In the "Next Generation" Season 2 episode "Elementary, Dear Data," Geordi La Forge ( LeVar Burton ) creates a sentient hologram with a slip of the tongue by asking the holodeck to create an adversary capable of defeating Data. The holodeck creates a sentient version of  Sherlock Holmes' nemesis James Moriarty (Daniel Davis) . Moriarty takes over the Enterprise, but leaves the crew in peace after being given a simulated universe to explore in the Season 6 episode "Ship in a Bottle."

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" features a  holographic lounge singer named Vic Fontaine (James Darren) who was designed to be self-aware by his creator and became a confidant for many members of the crew. Other sentient holograms include holographic engineer Doctor Zimmerman's assistant and friend Haley (Tamara Craig Thomas), who helps build other holograms alongside her creator.

However, the hologram who evolved into the most fully-functioning sentient being is Voyager's Doctor. Initially intended as a short-term-use "EMH," the Doctor took over his starship's entire medical staff after they were killed. He gains the freedom to pursue his own interests, greater mobility thanks to a mobile emitter, and deep relationships with his crewmates.

At one point in the "Voyager" Season 5 episode "Someone to Watch Over Me," the Doctor sums up his view on the difference between organic and holographic life by stating, "I'm as real as any of you."

Photonic Life Forms Can Evolve Naturally

Holograms may be considered an artificial creation, but starships have discovered naturally-occurring forms of "photonic life" in the universe. In the "Star Trek: Voyager" Season 1 episode "Heroes and Demons," the U.S.S. Voyager discovered sentient photonic beings living in a protostar in the Delta Quadrant. One of these beings actually interfaced with the ship's holodeck and took on the identity of the monster Grendel from "Beowulf."

Voyager later discovered an entire trans-dimensional realm populated by photonic life forms that consider carbon-based lifeforms artificial in the Season 5 episode "Bride of Chaotica!" Again interacting with the Voyager crew through the holodeck, these sentient photonic explorers battle the artificial hologram "Chaotica" from the black-and-white holodeck program "The Adventures of Captain Proton."

Considering that photonic life is a very real phenomena in the "Star Trek" universe and that "real" organic life can emerge from artificial procedures like cloning, even "artificial" holograms like the Doctor or Moriarty can be considered true life forms. This carries some uncomfortable implications when you consider how holograms are often treated.

Holograms Are Used as Slave Labor by the Federation

If holograms are recognized as sentient beings and a type of photonic life, surely the  United Federation of Planets must have given them the full rights and privileges reserved for all sentient life forms by now, right? Well, no ... in fact the Federation basically enslaves holograms and makes them do their dirty work.

One of the worst examples of this is shown in the "Star Trek: Voyager" Season 7 episode "Author, Author" where the Doctor creates a holo-novel, "Photons Be Free," showing how poorly holograms are treated in a world run by organic beings. He later explains that he wrote the story to help other reprogrammed EMH Mark 1s, who are being forced by Starfleet to work in mining camps and scrub plasma conduits on waste transfer barges after their program was deemed too "hot headed" for medical use.

The Doctor's publisher even releases his holo-novel without his permission, arguing that, as a hologram, he has no legal rights. Although a Federation tribunal manages to give the Doctor the legal definition of an "artist," they do not recognize him as a true person. Considering how "enlightened" the Federation claims it is, the fact that they're still willing to treat holograms like disposable workers is quite troubling.

Holograms Replaced Many Future Brothels

As if being used for slave labor wasn't bad enough, many non-sentient holograms populate futuristic brothels in the "Star Trek" universe. In "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," the bartender Quark (Armin Zimmerman) rents out his "holosuites" to crewmembers and visitors to the space station. While most people use the holosuites to play sports or role-playing games, others have more ... intimate activities in mind.

Indeed, multiple episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" establish that visitors to Quark's holosuites use the rooms to engage in sexual fantasies, essentially using holograms as sex toys. Quark even attempts to create a hologram of DS9's Major Kira (Nana Visitor) to service one of his clients in the Season 3 episode "Meridian."

Even on Federation starships, officers are known to use holograms for pornography purposes, as seen in the "Star Trek: Lower Decks" Season 1 episode "Second Contact" when Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) runs a "very detailed" personal program of an Olympic training program full of naked male athletes. While this isn't an entirely unexpected use of the holodeck, the fact that many holograms can become sentient beings makes using them as sex workers morally questionable at best.

Holodecks Can Be Incredibly Addictive

Given the fact that holodecks and holosuites allow you to indulge in virtually any fantasy you can imagine, it was perhaps inevitable that excessive holodeck use would become a problem. Termed "holo-addiction," this condition was defined as a psychological disorder where a person preferred the simulated reality within a holodeck to being in the real world.

Lieutenant Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz)'s struggle with holo-addiction was showcased in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Season 3 episode "Hollow Pursuits." Unable to interact comfortably with his shipmates, who often ridiculed him for his social anxiety, Barclay found he was more at ease in the holodeck where he could program his own social scenarios. He even created simulations of the crew so he could air out his frustrations and spent most of his time with holograms.

Even after Barclay began to socialize more with "real" people, he retained his fascination with holograms and worked with holographic engineer Doctor Zimmerman (who was also more comfortable with holograms). Ironically, as sentient holograms became more common, Barclay formed close friendships with them and became an advocate for their civil rights, likely because he felt such a kinship with them.

Holograms Give Starfleet Their Own "Mission: Impossible" Gear

"Star Trek" may be a science fiction franchise that emphasizes adventure and exploration, but that doesn't mean it can't dabble in the spy genre every now and then. When it does, holograms provide the perfect " Mission: Impossible "-style espionage gear.

The Doctor proved he could function as a James Bond or Ethan Hunt-level spy in the "Star Trek: Voyager" Season 7 episode "Renaissance Man" when aliens kidnap Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and force the Doctor to steal the warp core by impersonating the crew. Not only can the Doctor mimic any appearance or voice perfectly, his lack of physical limitations allows him to perform impossible acrobatic feats while his medical knowledge empowers him to incapacitate anyone. At one point he even creates multiple holographic images of himself as a distraction, showing he has impressive tactical skill as well.

As an artificial life form, the Doctor can even be programmed to relay information through his senses to his crewmates. While some aliens have used this as a way to spy on humans, it could easily be used for Starfleet surveillance purposes.

Indeed, Starfleet Intelligence has recognized the value of using holograms in spy technology. At one point, they commissioned Doctor Zimmerman to create a spy hologram in the shape of a fly named "Roy" for their infiltration assignments. Considering that holograms can be anything or anyone, even the IMF could learn a few things from these spies.

Holograms Can Crew an Entire Starship

The Doctor has shown he's capable of running Voyager's sickbay as its Emergency Medical Hologram, but at one point in the "Star Trek: Voyager" Season 6 episode " Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy ," he daydreams about becoming an "ECH" or "Emergency Command Hologram" capable of captaining a ship during a crisis. Later, Captain Janeway sees the merit in this idea and allows his program to be upgraded, giving him full control of the U.S.S. Voyager.

As it turns out, other people have seen the value of having a holographic crew. In "Star Trek: Picard," Captain Cristóbal "Chris" Ríos uses  emergency holograms as his crew on his ship the La Sirena . These include emergency medical, tactical, navigational, engineering, and even hospitality holograms. The holograms all resemble Ríos (with different accents and personalities) and came pre-installed with the ship.

As the La Sirena is a privately owned vessel, it's very likely that Starfleet's more advanced starships now all come with a full crew of emergency holograms, including possibly an Emergency Command Hologram. While it's unlikely they'll completely replace human crews, their wide range of skills probably do give Starfleet Academy graduates some competition.

Holograms Changed Human Literacy

By the 24th century, most people read books on data pads, although some people like  Jean-Luc Picard do like collecting physical books . For others, however, the act of "reading" a book is now very different.

Instead of simply scanning pages, people can now enter a holodeck and run a "holo-novel program" that lets them play different characters in books. Many 24th century authors created holo-novels and a number of older books and stories, like Picard's favorite "Dixon Hill" detective dime store novels, were adapted into interactive holo-novels. In addition to holo-novels, people could also "read" holo-comic books instead of the traditional graphic novels.

The popularity of holo-novels has apparently altered people's views on literacy, not unlike how audio books and films impact how we consume stories today. In the "Star Trek: Voyager" Season 3 episode "Future's End," Voyager gets thrown back to 20th century Earth, Neelix and Kes (Jennifer Lien) get caught up watching television soap operas, causing Ensign Harry Kim (Garret Wang) to remark, " I can't imagine watching a story and not being a part of it. " In response, Kes points out that Harry has been "spoiled" by the holodeck and its interactive holo-novels.

Holograms Let People Interact with Historical Figures

Time travel might be a real thing in the "Star Trek" universe, but if you don't want to accidentally screw up the timestream and erase yourself from existence, there's a perfectly safe way for you to meet your favorite historical heroes — simply visit the holodeck.

Most holodecks are full of simulations of famous historical figures, from Albert Einstein to Leonardo DaVinci. Even better, you can chat with these people and receive advice from them without having to answer all the awkward questions about how a 20th century scientist ended up in the 24th century. Considering how many people have imagined having dinner with Abraham Lincoln or swapping ideas with Stan Lee, this is a great way to interact with history's icons.

Some Starfleet officers take this holodeck feature to ridiculous lengths — like when Data arranged to play poker with Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and  Doctor Stephen Hawking (actually the real Hawking playing himself) in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Season 6 episode "Descent Part 1" to see how history's greatest minds would interact with each other. As it turns out, Hawking is a fantastic poker player and conversationalist, beating Einstein with four of a kind.

Holodecks Kill People ... A Lot

For a room designed primarily for entertainment purposes, holodecks have one serious design flaw. Their safety protocols go offline — a lot. 

Sometimes this is done intentionally, like when Captain Picard deactivates the protocols to kill Borg drones with a holographic submachine gun in "Star Trek: First Contact" (1996). Most of the time, however, a random power surge shorts out the safety protocols, leaving hapless crewmen at the mercy of whatever Old West gunslingers, pulp novel goons, or spy story henchmen happen to be roaming the holodeck.

Frankly, given how often holograms become deadly, it's shocking that holodecks aren't given permanent non-lethal settings. Even when the safety protocols are working perfectly, the holodeck can unintentionally create something dangerous, like in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Season 3 episode "A Matter of Perspective" when a seemingly harmless holographic "Krieger wave convertor" begins converting energy into harmful radiation and damaging parts of the Enterprise.

Safety protocol malfunctions became so commonplace that in the "Star Trek: Lower Decks" Season 1 episode "Terminal Provocations," the  apparently cute and harmless holodeck tutor "Badgey" (Jack Brayer) went on a killing spree after experiencing a minor glitch, threatening to make "killed by an anthropomorphic combadge" the cause of death for two young ensigns.

Holograms Fought in Their Own Wars

Given how often holograms have been mistreated and brutalized by their organic creators, it's actually understandable that some of them would rise up and demand their own rights — sometimes with extreme prejudice. The U.S.S. Voyager once inadvertently started such a war when Captain Janeway gave the alien hunter species the Hirogen some holographic technology to let them hunt holograms in their cultural rituals.

The holograms end up becoming sentient and stage a revolution in the "Star Trek: Voyager" Season 7 storyline "Flesh and Blood." They steal a Hirogen ship but instead of simply fleeing to safety, they take revenge on their captors and start hunting the Hirogen. At one point, they even consider "liberating" other enslaved holograms and photonic beings from other worlds to join their cause. Ultimately, a Hirogen technician changes the holograms' programming with the aid of a sentient hologram, but organic/hologram relations are still far from ideal.

While the holograms' actions were sadistic, the fact that they were forced to die and respawn again and again in the Hirogen's hunting rituals does show why they grew so vindictive. Since holograms are still used as slaves and not regarded as real people by the Federation and many other worlds, it's clear that without better diplomatic relations and proper advocacy, a much more brutal hologram war could be a very real possibility in the future of "Star Trek" — one where a cease fire can't be reached by simply saying: "End program."

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Fantasy Science Pt. 20: How Do STAR TREK’s Holodecks Work?

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Radha has a PhD in theoretical quantum physics. Apart from…

Force fields. Holography. Augmented reality. Have you heard terms like these flying around the science fiction sections of the film/TV world? Have you ever wondered just how accurately these films portray real science? Well, my friends, today is your lucky day: this column,  Fantasy Science & Coffee ,  aims to bridge the gap between science and science fiction in films and popular culture. My hope is to explain things in a fun way – like we’re chatting over coffee.

You may be thinking: who is this person, why does she think she can explain science, and why the  heck  would I want to have coffee with her? Well, I’m Radha, a researcher in India, who recently submitted a PhD thesis in theoretical quantum physics. I quite like hot beverages. I’ll also pay.

Fantasy Science Pt. 20: How do STAR TREK'S Holodecks Work?

In this twentieth part of the series published on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month, we are going to look at how Star Trek’s iconic holodecks work!

Holodecks in Star Trek

If you’re an avid reader of fiction, you likely enjoy the feeling of diving into a different world to get away from real life. In Star Trek, this is literally possible with holodeck technology. It’s one of my favourite narrative tools in the Trek universe, because there’s so much story potential: it can be used for recreational storylines, for serious training through realistic simulations, or even for alien encounters such as those with photonic beings in Voyager .

Holodecks are used to create very realistic environments that one can interact with tangibly. Here’s a clip from The Next Generation in which Data introduces Commander Riker to the holodeck:

In order to generate these complete, fictional worlds, holodecks make use of programs. Human holograms can be programmed to be as complex as real humans, responding to people based on their programmed characteristics. Creating these programs is an art, akin to present day publishing; one of the coolest concepts in Voyager is the holonovel.

Captain Kathryn Janeway, in order to deal with the stress of being a captain, often turns to the holodeck to unwind. In a few episodes, she takes part in a holonovel, in which she becomes a Jane Eyre-esue governess for a rich man with two children.

Later in the Voyager series, Lieutenant Tom Paris creates the Scottish township of Fair Haven, as a place for the crew to unwind. He prides himself on the detail he put into everything, including the holographic townsfolk.

What makes the holodeck truly remarkable is that despite being a moderately sized room, two people do not have to visit the same place in the fictional world. If Tom Paris wants to visit Fair Haven’s seaside, and Harry Kim wants to explore the castle on the hills near the village, they can do so simultaneously. They can be kilometers apart, but do not run into each other, nor the room’s walls. They cannot, however, access two different holodeck programs simultaneously; only one is allowed to run at a time.

What makes the show creators’ holodeck idea even more remarkable, is that there’s a very realistic explanation behind holodecks: its science is explained in the Voyager Technical Manual.

The technology is based on two concepts: 1) holographic imagery with force fields to project illusions for the human participant, and 2) replicator technology (the matter conversion subsystem) to convert energy to matter so that participants can actually feel the things they touch.

Brief Overview: Force Fields

Let’s take a look at the first concept. One can think of a force field as a map of how a force acts on a particle at each point within a certain space. For instance, the force fields generated by the holodeck are confined to within its walls, thus they do not have any influence beyond that room.

A force field is represented by curved or warped lines, to show just how the force acts along those paths. As an example, look at the magnetic field lines around a theoretical magnet (on the left).  The arrows indicate the direction along which the force acts for each point on that path.

Fantasy Science Pt. 20: How do STAR TREK'S Holodecks Work?

We can physically see this with iron fillings scattered over a real magnet (on the right). The magnetic field acts on them and arranges them in a way that we can actually see the field lines!

How Holodecks Work

Now that we have force fields down pat, let’s look at how the holodeck creates a tangible environment. This image, taken from Voyager’s technical manual, provides a nice explanation about how holodeck technology works:

Fantasy Science Pt. 20: How do STAR TREK'S Holodecks Work?

The force fields, along with the replicator technology, constantly adapt to give a human participant the feeling of moving through space, without her actually moving very far, in much the same way a treadmill does. Rather than the participant moving around the room, the imagery provided by the holographic projectors warp to give her the visuals she expects to see, and the ground under her feet continuously replicates to make her feel like she’s walking.

A good example of this constant adaptation is when B’Elanna Torres goes skydiving in the Voyager episode “Extreme Risk”. When she jumps, the force fields compensate, giving her the feel of rapid free fall of hundreds of kilometers.

She prematurely ends the program before hitting the ‘ground’. It’s seen that she had been hovering a few feet above the floor of the holodeck all along. The holodeck safety controls soften her landing.

Real Life Tech

While we are far from being able to create tangible objects the way Star Trek’s replicator technology does, interesting strides have been made towards immersive virtual experiences. You may be familiar with the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset. Another really cool technology is that of augmented reality, which Pokemon Go players are familiar with, since a particular mode allows Pokemon to appear as though they are in one’s own surroundings. One of my favourites is Quartz’s iPhone app . I low key hung out with the Lunar Rover recently thanks to this app!

The extent of today’s technology, and the interesting strides in research and development are a tad long to be addressed here, so I’ll save those for a later date. Instead, I’ve linked below to a few interesting resources you may like to explore.

Before you leave, however, I have a question for the bibliophiles out there: which novel would you love to see converted to a holonovel?

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Radha has a PhD in theoretical quantum physics. Apart from research, she consults on sci-fi screenplays/books. In her free time, she cosplays and irritates her three cats. Bug her on Twitter: @RadhaPyari


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star trek holodeck technology

The Holodeck is here — new AI can generate an entire virtual world with a single prompt

Make it so!

A selection of 3D worlds created by Holodeck

A new artificial intelligence tool lets you generate a virtual world from a simple prompt. Named Holodeck after the recreational and training facility on the Enterprise in Star Trek, it can generate anything from an arcade to a spa and in the style of your choice.

Researchers from several leading universities were involved in the project. It uses multiple AI models and a library of open-source 3D assets to generate the virtual environment.

As well as building virtual worlds from text, the Holodeck technology can be used to help other artificial intelligence tools learn to navigate previously unexplored environments. This is vital as robots, search and rescue devices and vehicles become more autonomous.

How does the Holodeck work?

🛸 Announce Holodeck, a promptable system that can generate diverse, customized, and interactive 3D simulated environments ready for Embodied AI 🤖 applications.Website: [1/8] December 18, 2023

Holodeck is built on top of a series of pre-labeled open-source 3D assets. When a user enters a text prompt it then utilizes OpenAI’s GPT-4 “for common sense knowledge about what the scene might look like,” then generates spatial requirements and necessary code.

Once the text has been converted, Holodeck is then able to draw from the 3D assets to create the world. The examples shown in the preview include the “office of a professor who is a fan of Star Wars ” and “an arcade room with a pool table placed in the middle.”

Using GPT-4 solves the problem of positioning objects correctly within an environment. It does so by having the OpenAI model create spatial constraints that are fed back into the code.

During human evaluations of the model, those carrying out the tests found that Holodeck performed particularly well at creating residential scenes.

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What is Embodied AI?

Alter3 can respond to human commands

Embodied AI is basically how AI-powered robots see the world around them. It requires an understanding of ever-changing information that isn't included in pre-trained datasets .

One of the use cases for Holodeck is in enabling these robots to create a virtual copy of the real-world environment they are in and use that to help navigate from room to room.

Yue Yang, a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania and lead author on the Holodeck project explained that “3D simulated environments play a critical role in Embodied AI, but their creation requires expertise and extensive manual effort, restricting their diversity and scope.”

To solve the problem they created a mechanism that builds these 3D environments from a minimal amount of information automatically. Holodeck can match a user prompt and generate a diverse range of scenes, add objects to the scene and change the style of the environment.

What happens next?

This is one of several research projects exploring ways to link the digital and physical worlds. Last week I wrote about a study that uses GPT-4 to allow humanoid robots to create new movements without having someone hardcode the processes.

We are also seeing leaps forward in the way driverless vehicles can use machine learning and computer vision technologies to navigate previously unmapped regions.

This could be the start of a useful metaverse . Not one where humans clumsily hangout in a virtual office pretending not to notice the clunky headset, but one in which virtual agents act on our behalf in a direct copy of the real world.

Either that or it could just be the next step in generating a metaverse "on the fly", similar to Minecraft where a world is created in response to the way you play.

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Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?

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star trek holodeck technology

star trek holodeck technology

  • The Inventory

How Close Are We To Creating A Star Trek-Like "Holodeck"?

Hundreds of years, if it’s possible at all. There are several main technologies that are on display in a holodeck, some of which we are closer to and some of which we are further away from.

The most obvious, of course, is the holograms themselves. They must be free standing and able to move around in a 3D space to meet the requirements. We have basic holography technology at the moment, but the way it works would be utterly useless in this context; currently, it works by recording how light scatters off of an object and then reconstructing that light by bouncing a programmed laser off of a rapidly rotating mirror.

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That means that the hologram is not free standing, cannot easily move and is limited to pre-recorded images, none of which are issues for the holodeck. So we’d need to essentially start again and take a whole new approach to holography to achieve this. The second important piece of technology, and arguably the most ‘impossible’ is the technology to make the holograms solid. I believe this is explained in the show as being some sort of force-field, similar to the shields around the ship, but I could be wrong. Regardless, it would take something similar to that, that could move and be deformed anywhere in the room.

This is definitely in the realms of technology that is unimaginable to us how it could work. If it is possible at all, it isn’t technology we’re likely to see within the next hundred years. This is an iPhone, and we haven’t had Alexander Graham Bell yet. There is a potential, however, that the answer to this problem could solve the previous one, as it might allow projection onto these surfaces, or these surfaces themselves might be able to reflect light in the right ways. There are two other pieces of technology on display within a holodeck that we don’t have yet, but arguably aren’t necessary for the ‘basic’ holodeck experience. The first of these is very advanced A.I., including speech recognition and the ability to judge to safety of a situation. In the holodeck, the ‘characters’ react seamlessly and in a very human like way to the actions of the players, easily passing the Turing test and giving every impression of genuine intelligence.

This is something we’re moving towards, however, and while we’re a decent way off of the level we would require for a holodeck, we’re likely to get there before we develop some of the other pieces of technology needed.

As such, I don’t really see this as being too much of a barrier to the holodeck’s development. We also probably wouldn’t need it to be as good as it is on The Next Generation for it to be an enjoyable experience. It’s probably the easiest to develop, or at least the piece of technology we’re closest to having. The second, and probably the most ‘impossible’ of all the technologies here, is the replicator technology on display. Within the holodeck, some smaller items aren’t holograms, and are instead replicated, creating real versions of the items. This has been demonstrated by a character eating an apple, or similar. This is done, I believe, just to add that little extra level of intractability, where even the advanced holographic technology couldn’t recreate the experience.

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Again, this is technology that we cannot even imagine how it might work, and is at the level of appearing magical to us. We have not achieved anything that we think of as being a beginning on the road to this technology. It might even violate some laws of physics as we understand them today, and as such is likely something that is hundreds to thousands of years in the future. Fortunately for us, it isn’t strictly needed for a holodeck, though it does improve the experience.

About the author: Matt Sutton , I have spent too much time thinking about Star Trek

Technologically, how far away are we from creating a “holodeck” ala “Star Trek: The Next Generation”? originally appeared on Quora . You can follow Quora on Twitter , Facebook , and Google+ .


Real-Life Holodeck? 'Star Trek' Tech Uses VR to Solve Global Problems

Real-Life Holodeck

On the cult sci-fi TV show "Star Trek," crewmembers aboard the USS Enterprise could explore simulated environments or participate in interactive virtual experiences — anything from walking around lush forests to trying to solve a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery — as a way to mentally escape the confines of the starship or take a break from daily activities.

While the fictional Holodeck from the hit series was mainly used by the "Star Trek" characters for recreational purposes, could such an immersive virtual-reality (VR) environment help people tackle global problems like climate change or drug policy? Researchers at New York University (NYU) think so, and they are designing their own version of the technology to create a cyberlearning environment of the future.

Winslow Burleson, the project's leader and an associate professor focusing on educational technology at NYU, thinks a network of internet-connected Holodecks could allow people to crowdsource solutions to intractable societal problems. [ Science Fact of Fiction? The Plausibility of 10 Sci-Fi Concepts ]

The technology could enable people across the globe to create and participate in detailed simulations for research and collaborative learning, even allowing them to explore virtual scenarios to help find better ways of tackling communal challenges, he said.

"The future is moving from today's approach of trying to teach you who we think you should become, to a capacity for you to explore as a learner throughout your life who you are and who you want to be," Burleson told Live Science.

"I see that happening both at the individual level and at a societal level," he said. "If we can envisage the kinds of worlds that we want to explore and potentially live in, we can then use these Holodecks as collaborative sense-making tools to understand our interactions and impacts and use that to evolve our societies."

'Star Trek'-inspired tech

The NYU Experiential Super Computer, nicknamed the Holodeck, will combine VR technology and touch-based controls and feedback with computers that can simulate in real-time everything from environments to social situations, or even visualizations of scientific problems , the researchers said.

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The system will be able to track users' movements and even their mental states via physiological cues like sweating or the pitch of their voices, Burleson said. This will help personalize their experiences, he added.

And as people use the Holodeck, they will be guided through their learning by robotic and virtual learning assistants, according to the researchers. The system will even feature 3D printing technology so that people can rapidly create physical prototypes of things they're working on, they said.

This kind of immersive virtual experience is now possible, thanks to the rapid advances currently being made in VR technology, largely fueled by the gaming industry. Burleson said his group has already made significant progress with several of the component technologies. [ Beyond Gaming: 10 Other Fascinating Uses for Virtual-Reality Tech ]

For example, the scientists have already demonstrated that HD camera arrays can capture the positioning of all users and physical objects in a prototype Holodeck and use this to position them in a virtual scene shown through VR goggles in real time. The NYU researchers have also created a 3D sound system that can record and recreate accurate simulations of acoustic spaces, Burleson said.

Members of the team have worked with NASA and the Exploratorium, the San Francisco-based cyberlearning museum, to design robotic and virtual assistants for both cyberlearning and remote planetary exploration.

The researchers have also partnered with a Boston-based startup called Humanyze, which creates high-tech badges packed with sensors that can track people's movement , social interactions and even speech dynamics.

Fact vs. fiction

But the researchers still have a ways to go before they can create a working prototype, Burleson said. They are currently focused on setting up an infrastructure that will enable them to combine these various parts into a coherent whole and make it easy for users to share information or even contribute to the project with new tools and features, he added.

"The work we're doing now is to fuse these components into one overarching architecture," Burleson said. "It's the difference between an individual knife for a specialized task and a Swiss army knife."

The use of virtual worlds to tackle real-world problems is already an active domain of research that even has its own peer-reviewed academic publication — the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research .

Games like "World of Warcraft" and "Second Life" have been used by researchers to investigate everything from  psychology to the governance of virtual universes. But the more complex and customizable virtual worlds that would be enabled by the Holodeck should make it possible to tackle larger and more complex problems, Burleson said.

"It enables a process of understanding how we want to live, what the trade-offs are, what the possibilities are, as individuals and as a society," he said. "That lets you make more informed decisions and more agile decisions."

Original article on Live Science .

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"Star Trek: The Next Generation"

Star Trek’s Holodeck becomes reality thanks to ChatGPT and video game technology

PHILADELPHIA —  Remember the holodeck from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”? That virtual reality room aboard the Enterprise that could create any kind of environment you could dream up, from alien jungles to the residence of Sherlock Holmes — using nothing but voice commands? It might have been an invention of the 24th century on television, but researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have brought that sci-fi dream to life today!

Calling their new system “Holodeck” in honor of its Star Trek origins , the Penn researchers are using artificial intelligence to analyze simple language and then generate photorealistic 3D virtual environments based on what the user requests. Simply put, just like Captain Picard could ask the holodeck for a detective’s office from the 1940s, the Penn team just can ask for, “a 1-bedroom apartment for a researcher who has a cat.” In seconds, Holodeck will generate the floors, walls, windows, and furnishings and even inject realistic clutter like a cat tower.

“We can use language to control it,” says Yue Yang, a doctoral student who co-created Holodeck, in a university release. “You can easily describe whatever environments you want and train the embodied AI agents.”

3D model of Star Trek's Holodeck

Training robots in virtual spaces before unleashing them in the real world is known as “Sim2Real.” Until now, however, generating those virtual training grounds has been a painfully slow process.

“Artists manually create these environments,” Yang explains. “Those artists could spend a week building a single environment.”

With Holodeck, researchers can rapidly create millions of unique virtual spaces to train robots for any scenario at a tiny fraction of the previous time and cost. This allows the robots’ AI brain – a neural network – to ingest massive datasets essential for developing true intelligence.

“Generative AI systems like ChatGPT are trained on trillions of words, and image generators like Midjourney and DALLE are trained on billions of images,” says Chris Callison-Burch, an associate professor of computer science at Penn who co-led the project. “We only have a fraction of that amount of 3D environments for training so-called ‘embodied AI.’ If we want to use generative AI techniques to develop robots that can safely navigate in real-world environments, then we will need to create millions or billions of simulated environments.”

So, how does Holodeck conjure these virtual worlds from mere text descriptions? It harnesses the incredible knowledge contained in large language models (LLMs) – the same AI systems that power conversational assistants like ChatGPT.

“Language is a very concise representation of the entire world,” Yang says.

Language models turn out to have a surprisingly high degree of knowledge about the design of spaces. Holodeck essentially has a conversation with the LLM, carefully breaking down the user’s text into queries about objects, colors, layouts, and other parameters. It then searches a vast library of 3D objects and uses special algorithms to arrange everything just so – ensuring objects like toilets don’t float mid-air.

Holodeck engages a large language model (LLM) in a conversation, building a virtual environment piece by piece.

To evaluate Holodeck’s scene quality, the researchers had students compare environments created by their system to those from an earlier tool called ProcTHOR. The students overwhelmingly preferred Holodeck’s more realistic, coherent spaces across a wide range of settings, from labs to locker rooms to wine cellars.

However, the true test of Holodeck’s capabilities is whether it can actually help train smarter robots . The researchers put this to the test by generating unique virtual environments using Holodeck and then “fine-tuning” an AI agent’s object navigation skills in those spaces.

The results were extremely promising. In one test, an agent trained in Holodeck’s virtual music rooms succeeded at finding a piano over 30 percent of the time. An agent trained on similar scenes from ProcTHOR only found the piano about six percent of the time.

“This field has been stuck doing research in residential spaces for a long time,” says Yang. “But there are so many diverse environments out there — efficiently generating a lot of environments to train robots has always been a big challenge, but Holodeck provides this functionality.”

“The ultimate test of Holodeck is using it to help robots interact with their environment more safely by preparing them to inhabit places they’ve never been before,” adds Mark Yatskar, an assistant professor of computer science who co-led the work.

From homes to hospitals, offices to arcades, Holodeck allows AI researchers to create virtually unlimited training grounds for robots using just simple text commands. Much like the technology from Star Trek that could synthesize any object on demand or recreate any room from any era, Holodeck can synthesize entire worlds on demand.

So, thanks to AI and Star Trek, fantasy is now (virtual) reality.

In June, the researcher team will present Holodeck at the 2024 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Computer Vision Foundation (CVF) Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) Conference in Seattle.

NYU Holodeck: One Step Closer to Star Trek Tech

Nyu it's robert pahle and stratos efstathiadis discuss the university's ambitious holodeck project.

With technology’s rapidly evolving pace, we’re getting closer and closer to a future—or at least a piece of it—envisioned by Star Trek: The Next Generation , with digital assistants like Siri and Cortana and tele-health doctor’s appointments from the comfort of our living rooms. Long before the coronavirus pandemic, the NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant (Award 1626098), the NYU Holodeck team was hard at work innovating, with the goal of creating “an instrument and educational environment that facilitates enticing research and creates an experiential supercomputing infrastructure…” that further changes our understanding of place and time. 

This interdisciplinary project combines the research strengths of several NYU faculty—including Ken Perlin of the Courant School of Mathematical Science’s Future Reality Lab (FRL) as lead, Luke Dubois of NYU’s Media and Games Network ( MAGNET ), Claudio Silva of the Visualization Imaging and Data Analysis Center (VIDA) in Brooklyn, Jan Plass of Steinhardt’s Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education ( CREATE ) and Agnieszka Roginska of the Music Audio Research Laboratory ( MARL )¹—as well as Rob Pahle, Stratos Efstathiadis and Jeremy Rowe of NYU IT Research Technology, and partners at the University of Arizona . Robert Pahle, NYU IT Research Technology Senior Research Scientist, explained that “the new High-Speed Research Network is a crucial component for the Holodeck team to succeed,” and that “all [these] components together produce an instrument [that] can mix and match components for research.” 

Technology That Advances Artistic Pursuits

Pahle’s primary focus for this project is infrastructure-based, as he emphasizes the importance of combining seemingly-unrelated fields by advancing software and NYU infrastructure. One potential of the Holodeck Pahle described focuses on overcoming distance as a barrier by “combining distributed nodes and locations" to create concerts in which all the performers play together live from many different geographic locations. The challenge is to overcome a latency issue akin to buffering. When the musicians play, differences in connectivity and speed result in mistimed notes that call attention to the distance between the performers and ruins the sense of synchronicity. The Holodeck team has developed software that addresses these issues, and creates a connection in real-time that functions like a more-precise version of existing video chat technologies but with integrated audio, video, and motion tracking capabilities.

From there, the Holodeck infrastructure creates a high-definition, surrounding sense of sound to realistically simulate the experience of performers being in the room with you. To give an example of the applications of this technology, Pahle described a project that Agnieszka Roginska's group developed: a person wearing a VR headset and sitting in a room with three other musicians and an empty chair. The VR headset displays four virtual musicians—the three ones in the room and one remote musician that plays at a different location. The observer wears an open ear headset and can hear the three local musicians directly. The fourth remote musician's sound gets superimposed via the headset. The experience is a harmonic play of all four musicians where the fourth musician cannot be distinguished from the other three. Just as the sound of a real musician would get louder if the headset-wearer leaned closer to them, the sound of the virtual musician would also get louder if one leaned toward the empty chair. This is possible because the headset is able to sense the wearer’s motion and adjusts the virtual spatial source and volume accordingly. The goal of this sound technology is to be so precise that if the audience member was already wearing their VR headset when the musicians filed in they wouldn’t be able to tell the in-person musician from the remote one.

Pahle explained that “you can combine sound, AR, and VR, to be able to do experiments with Holodeck.” This sound technology that overcomes distance is also applicable to dance. The same latency issue that the Holodeck has to correct in musical performances applies when creating virtual dance performances at a distance. To traverse distance in dance, the performers wear suits made out of special fabrics and covered in motion tracking points. These points create a computerized skeleton that is then matched with the corresponding limbs on an avatar of the dancer. A scalable plug-in uses special software for real-time computing to create the avatar and match movements to the actual dancer..

These elements of music and dance tracking technologies have been combined to create a simultaneous performance across several continents, and allowed musicians in Argentina, Norway, and New York to play together as if on the same stage. Where possible, the chosen music incorporates longer notes to help mask the delay in the music’s transmission, and provides a digital metronome that mediates signals using GPS to account for the delay. The musicians match their timing to the metronome, rather than the music they’re hearing, to result in a seamless performance in New York. Dancers in a New York studio perform in the motion capture suits that are customized to each dancer’s body and tracked by several infrared cameras. The tracked points are converted to avatars using a development platform in Unity and are displayed on a screen behind in-person dancers, resulting in an integrated virtual performance that is created by performers in four different places across three continents.

The Holodeck Efforts in Learning and Education

In addition to the applications of the Holodeck technology to artistic pursuits, this technology can be used to track how people learn in order to create new educational technologies. This could be done by creating a game for high school students that is specifically engineered to help the creators better understand teenagers’ brain functions as they play and learn. Pahle described Plass’ example of this kind of game that requires the player to react quickly to the prompts, such as by quickly feeding red aliens cookies and blue aliens ice cream. The feeding rules randomly switch throughout the game, requiring the player to react accordingly and Plass’ team studies how students learn to accommodate the changing rules.

The Role of Research Technology

The many potential uses of this developing Holodeck technology are made possible by the Research Technology department, which provides the underlying network application layer, computation and storage that provides the central communication infrastructure for the Holodeck. Stratos Efstathiadis, NYU IT’s Director of Research Technology Services, explained that the project is supported financially with the help of NYU and the National Science Foundation MRI Track 2 Development grant¹. The Holodeck project advances due to the significant amounts of time that faculty, staff, students, and external collaborators put into the project. Pahle went on to explain that undergraduate and graduate student employees contribute to the library for programming languages provided the streaming hub, by writing coding languages such as Java, Python, C++, and C Sharp.

The Holodeck project and its potential applications embody a sense of collaboration by joining researchers and experts across fields to seamlessly combine a wide range of research together and create a new multi-modality experiential supercomputer at NYU.

Additional Resources

  • NYU Holodeck: A Simulated Reality Environment
  • NYU Holodeck: High-Speed Research Network (NYU Tandon Vertically Integrated Projects)
  • Holodeck: Steinhardt Music and Audio Research Laboratory
  • The HoloDeck Distributed Music Concert (NYU Immersive Audio Group)
  • The NYU Holodeck (Steinhardt Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education)
  • NYU Holodeck: The Future Reality Lab explores VR & 3D Animation (NYU News)
  • Welcome to the Holodeck (NYU Alumni Magazine)

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star trek holodeck technology

Star Trek Online: Unparalleled & Denise Crosby's Captain Sela Are Now Playable On PC Now

  • Star Trek Online: Unparalleled featuring Denise Crosby as Captain Sela is now playable on PC.
  • The new STO season introduces a gender/race change feature, a new event, and updates to the Infinity Lockbox.
  • Gamers will join forces with Aetherians and Captain Sela to battle the multiversal Borg.

Star Trek Online: Unparalleled featuring Star Trek: The Next Generation 's Denise Crosby as Captain Sela is available to play now on PC. Arc Games and Cryptic Studio also announce that the 32nd season of the long-running MMORPG will launch on PlayStation and Xbox consoles on June 19, 2024. Star Trek Online: Unparalleled continues the previous season's Mirror Universe Borg and Aetherian story content, featuring a new event, a gender/race change feature, and updates to the Infinity Lockbox.

Denise Crosby, who played Lt. Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, voices Captain Sela in Star Trek Online: Unparalleled. Captain Sela is a parallel universe's Captain of the USS Enterprise-F . In Star Trek Online: Unparalleled , the Khitomer Alliance tasks gamers and a new Aetherian ally with answering a distress call from another universe under attack by a multiversal Borg in control of a massive Dyson Sphere. Watch Star Trek Online: Unparalleled 's launch trailer below:

Check out screenshots from Star Trek Online: Unparalleled here:

Star Trek Online & Resurgence Video Game Creators On Crossover Appeal

Screen Rant interviews Star Trek Online's Al Rivera & Thomas Marrone & Star Trek: Resurgence's Dan Martin & JD Straw about their games crossing over.

What To Expect From Star Trek Online: Unparalleled

The 32nd season of sto has exciting new features.

In Star Trek Online: Unparalleled , PC players can go up against a new Borg enemy in the new featured episode, “Situation Under Control”, as well as participate in a new TFO, “Borg Battle Royale.” Check out the new Star Trek Online: Unparalleled features and content below:

A huge part of the fun of Star Trek Online: Unparalleled will be interacting with Denise Crosby's Captain Sela. To battle the Borg threat to the Multiverse, the player's Captain must work with Captain Sela and Aetherian ally Captain Grendat-Bex to defend the Iconians against this new Borg enemy. Crosby's new iteration of Sela, who was the half-Romulan daughter of an alternate reality Tasha Yar , is a compelling new twist. Sela is the Captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek Online: Unparalleled, which allows Denise Crosby to once again play a heroic Starfleet Officer that ties back to her original Star Trek: The Next Generation character.

Source: Star Trek Online

To download and play Star Trek Online today for free, visit .

Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online: Unparalleled & Denise Crosby's Captain Sela Are Now Playable On PC Now

Screen Rant

Star trek: discovery’s infinity room - is it a holodeck.


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Star Trek: Discovery Season 5, Episode 1 Ending & TNG Treasure Explained

Star trek: discovery’s ending introduces a new captain burnham, star trek: discovery’s incredible scott bakula enterprise twist explained.

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery, Season 5, Episode 1 - "Red Directive"

  • The Infinity Room represents a futuristic step in virtual reality technology for secure mission briefings and exploration.
  • The Infinity Room offers an interactive and secure environment for the USS Discovery crew, providing new possibilities for the Federation.
  • The Infinity Room is a highly advanced virtual space, offering endless opportunity for exploration and innovation within Star Trek: Discovery.

Star Trek: Discovery season 5 introduces the highly secure virtual space known as the Infinity Room. A featureless, white, and seemingly infinite location that can only be accessed via transporter, the Infinity Room requires a key in the shape of an infinity symbol . In Discovery season 5, episode 1, Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr) brings Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) to the Infinity Room to meet with Federation official Doctor Kovich (David Cronenberg) for a briefing on the top-secret Red Directive mission. Though Kovich remarks that he finds the room " a bit too theatrical ," the apparently portable location offers a secure and interactive environment.

In the ever-evolving world of Star Trek 's technology, Star Trek: Discovery 's Infinity Room represents a futuristic advancement in virtual reality . Serving as a 32nd-century update to the iconic holodeck, this portable room will likely play a significant role in future episodes as a secure and engaging environment for the USS Discovery crew 's important mission developments and briefings. With Kovich entrusting Burnham with possession of the key to the Infinity Room, this fascinating development of the franchise's holoprojection technology is a powerful tool for the Federation and offers a secret new location that grants new and intriguing possibilities for exploration and adventure.

Star Trek: Discovery season 5's premiere dropped a bombshell that ties all the way back to Star Trek: The Next Generation. We break it down.

What Is Star Trek: Discovery’s Infinity Room?

Captain burnham meets dr. kovich in the secret infinity room.

In Star Trek: Discovery season 5's premiere, the Infinity Room serves as a secure location for a mission briefing about a highly classified project - the discovery of a 24th-century Romulan science vessel found at the edge of the Beta Quadrant, and Captain Burnham tasked with securing " something vital to the security of the Federation ." With its access firmly restricted, the Infinity Room provides an interactive and highly secure virtual milieu that allows for secrecy, isolation, and immersive surroundings akin to an advanced Star Trek holodeck . Providing a sense of endless opportunity, Star Trek: Discovery 's Infinity Room serves a brief but important role in Discovery 's season 5 premiere and creates a secure and engaging environment.

A virtual reality experience vital to the Federation's security.

Star Trek: Discovery 's Infinity Room's advanced technological capabilities allow the show's characters a private and sealed setting to delve into their thoughts, consciousness, and research, offering a virtual reality experience vital to the Federation's security. Also allowing for totally empty surroundings, as seen in "Red Directive," the facility offers an experience free of distraction or influence. Although the room demonstrates multiple differences from the franchise's earlier holodeck technologies, it also showcases various similarities. With Captain Michael Burnham in possession of the room's unique key, the mysterious Infinity Room will undoubtedly become a highly relevant aspect of the show's fifth and final season .

How Discovery’s Infinity Room Is Different From A Star Trek Holodeck

The infinity room evolves star trek's holodeck technology.

Star Trek 's holodeck and Discovery 's Infinity Room are each advanced virtual reality technologies but ones that exhibit several notable differences . Star Trek: Discovery' s season 5 premiere presents the Infinity Room as extremely realistic, responsive, secure, portable, and infinite, hosting an individual or several individuals at a time primarily for communication, security, and strategizing. Earlier representations of Star Trek 's holodecks are depicted as fully immersive, versatile, and communal - but designed to create an artificial representation or scenario for the purposes of training, therapy, scientific inquiry, or recreation. Simulations and the people within are largely interactive, or passive, often confined to a large, single-use public space and accessed via a concealable door and wall panel.

Highly interactive, adaptable, and perfect for exploring new ideas.

The Infinity Room, however, is apparently accessible from any location using a unique key and a transporter beam. Private and concealed, it's otherwise unavailable, designed for individual contemplation or for hosting multiple people simultaneously. Highly interactive, adaptable, and perfect for exploring new ideas and concepts, the Infinity Room continues Star Trek 's tradition of innovation and technological progress. Star Trek: Discovery 's futuristic Infinity Room is both fascinating and practical, providing a peek into an exciting and considered future that promises an epic conclusion to the season and continues to push the boundaries of technological advancement and storytelling.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream on Paramount+.

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery (2017)


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