"Star Trek" communicator replicas

These replica communicator badges seen at "Star Trek -- The Exhibition" in Los Angeles on Oct. 10, 2009, appeared in later TV series.

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Whenever Captain Kirk left the safe confines of the Enterprise, he did so knowing it could be the last time he saw his ship. Danger was never far away. And when in distress and in need of help in a pinch, he could always count on Bones to come up with a miracle cure, Scotty to beam him up or Spock to give him some vital scientific information. He'd just whip out his communicator and place a call.

Fast-forward 30 years and wouldn't you know it, it seems like everyone carries a communicator. We just know them as cell phones. Actually, the communicators in "Star Trek" were more like the push-to-talk, person-to-person devices first made popular by Nextel in the mid to late '90s. The "Star Trek" communicator had a flip antenna that when opened, activated the device. The original flip cell phones are perhaps distant cousins. Whatever the case, the creators of "Star Trek" were on to something because you'd be hard-pressed to find many people without a cell phone these days.

In later incarnations of the "Star Trek" franchise, the communicators evolved to being housed in the Starfleet logo on the crewman's chest. With the tap of a finger, communication between crewmembers became even easier. Vocera Communications has a similar product that can link people on the same network inside a designated area like an office or a building by using the included software over a wireless LAN. The B2000 communication badge weighs less than two ounces and can be worn on the lapel of a coat or shirt and allows clear two-way communication. It's even designed to inhibit the growth of bacteria so it's suitable for doctors [source: Vocera].