Star Trek Creators Foreshadowed Unified Communications and Business VoIP Frontier

star_trek_300x240Advanced communication techniques have always been a staple of the science fiction genre. Unified communications have appeared in countless futuristic settings, but perhaps the richest and most colorful imaginings come from one of the biggest franchises of all—Star Trek.

While the famous storyline has spanned numerous series and permutations over the years, you can see foreshadowings of modern day devices as far back as the hallowed TOS (The Original Series.) They didn’t call it VoIP, but the similarities and applications are striking. Here are just a few ways business VoIP would have fit right in on the Enterprise:

  • In the late ’60s, the first cell phone was still a good decade or two away—but Kirk, Spock and McCoy could easily stay in touch via small devices called comms that clipped to a velour waistband. These flip-phone style units were a glimpse of mobile telephony when it was far more dream than reality, but the concept was still more similar to walkie talkies than to today’s cell phones—convenient for staying in touch on an open channel with the team and the ship, but incapable of allowing private conversations. VoIP could have easily been installed to solve this problem, with everyone instructed to BYOC (Bring Your Own Communicator) on missions!scotty
  • The first episode of Star Trek was filmed in 1964 — the same year that Xerox brought the forerunner of the fax machine to market. The episode featured a piece of paper spitting out of a computer console. In later episodes, information was transmitted directly from Uhura’s workstation to Spock’s seamlessly—just as people send faxes, voice and data with VoIP-enabled unified communications systems today.spock
  • The comms on the Enterprise allowed for quick and efficient communication between decks as well as from the bridge to any room on board, but here again the system was clumsy. Today’s VoIP solutions help you reach anyone, anywhere, anytime, in perfect privacy. You can carry a cell phone and not only have your office comms available to you wherever you are, but you can see who’s available and chat, for efficient communications on any device.
  • When Kirk needed downtime, his private quarters were convenient and relaxing. He could still update the Captain’s Log, check in with Scotty, and make command decisions when not physically on the bridge. Likewise, today’s business VoIP solutions mean employees and bosses can get the job done even when away from the office, reducing stress and unchaining staff from their desks. VoIP can take you to that final business frontier, wherever that is for your organization.
  • Opening a videoconference with the nearest Klingon or Romulan warlord was always easy on the Bridge, with enormous video screens that only recently became affordable enough for business or even home use. Achieving that kind of easy video transmission at an affordable price point was something that would have to wait for VoIP down here on earth, but it’s affordable and available today, and you don’t have to be the ship captain to use it.
  • By the time Star Trek had several movies under its belt, the Enterprise was looking rather worse for wear. Maybe VoIP could have saved the Federation some big bucks, making maintenance of the famous starship a real possibility. After all, business VoIP solutions can save organizations up to 50% over standard telephony systems. That would pay for a lot of vessel renovation! And imagine the upgrades you could make to your own business with that kind of money.enterprise
  • When Spock got hit with a biological imperative, the only option was strapping him to a bed in sickbay. With VoIP, he could have continued to work from his bunk, feeling like a valuable member of the team instead of an erstwhile crew member spun out of control. Companies that implement VoIP and allow flexibility for employees to work from home report fewer staff members calling in sick. Better to have one worker out with a bad case of euphoric slacker-creating plant spores than the whole crew!
  • While there wasn’t a lot of active recruitment on Star Trek (the modus operandi was to leave civilizations intact and undisturbed if possible, reducing the chances of picking up new crew members), the sheer coolness of the tech was unmistakable. (I’d have signed up as a red shirt in a heartbeat if it meant having my very own communicator!) Today’s mobile options offered by VoIP for business make getting talent on your team easy, with perks like flex schedules, working from home and tight team management on the table.

The latest incarnation of Star Trek, “Into Darkness,” can be expected to be even more high tech and glossy than its predecessors. The 3D version is just another example of how modern technology has improved over the years — from the clunky cardboard glasses with red and blue lenses to the sleek frames provided today. Imagine how the workplace will change even more when everyone’s business communications and media are truly unified under one VoIP-based federation! Until then, you can push your own business to new frontiers with early adoption of business VoIP today.

Debbie Jo Severin


Debbie Jo is the Vice President of Marketing at 8x8 and is responsible for 8x8’s marketing strategies and operations driving awareness and adoption of the company’s communication services. Debbie Jo thoroughly enjoys bringing the 8x8 brand alive in a way that brings real customers, real value. [...] Read More >

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