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Google built a prototype Star Trek communicator for voice searches

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But it never made it out of the lab

Google / TIme

How much does Google love Star Trek? Enough that the company built, and then abandoned, a voice search device modeled after the badge-and-communicator pin worn by members of Starfleet. Although in Star Trek this "combadge" was used to talk to other personnel as well as future computers, Google envisioned the device solely as a channel for voice searches. According to a report from Time that revealed the prototype's brief existence, users activated the badge by tapping the front. Their query was then routed via Bluetooth to their smartphone, and the answers read aloud from a built-in speaker.

"I always wanted that pin," Google senior vice president Amit Singhal told Time. "You just ask it anything and it works. That’s why we were like, ‘Let’s go prototype that and see how it feels.’"

A stark trek communicator seems cool, but wouldn't really be that useful

Of course, while it would certainly be convenient to conduct voice searches from a badge on your chest, it wouldn't be very discreet or very useful. For a start, much of the information we want from online searching is best displayed on a screen (phone numbers, maps, and so on), and no one wants to announce their every Google search while walking down the street. Plus, while hardware startups have already created devices that offer the communication functionality of the Star Trek combadge, most people who want to use their smartphone hands-free just buy a Bluetooth headset instead.

All in all, while it's nice to think about Googlers being inspired by their favorite sci-fi show, it's not hard to see why the company's prototype never became a fully fledged product.

Verge Video: You can turn your phone into a Star Trek communicator, too