Okay, okay, I admit it, I have a dark secret. I am a Star Trek fan, mostly The Next Generation. To the recent annoyance of those around me, Sunday’s have become Star Trek day since Virgin Channel One has started showing re-runs.

The manager in me frequently points to Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Captain Picard in his leadership style, but the technologist in me is fascinated by the vision of technology in the 24th Century…

If you actually are an avid sci-fi geek and academic then technically you can look at all the technologies, look for commonalities and you have a quasi-delphi study into how people have projected the future visioning of technology. That is assuming each sci-fi show hasn’t copied off each other.

What interests me at the moment with regards to Star Trek: The Next Generation is all the technology that the younger me thought were cutting edge and now we’re starting to see more and more in everyday life.

Now, I haven’t quite yet got myself a warp reactor, a transporter or a food replicator – which I am in desperate need for as I will no doubt have a future rant about how long produce seems to last from the UK’s biggest supermarket.

However, most of the crew were working with touch screens for many years, to the point where normal products such as phones, laptops and computers have overtaken the sci-fi vision and we have “multi touch.” The original series of Star Trek had the flip up communicator, which looked very much like a Motorola StarTAC even the name is an homage to Star Trek.

I even believe that 3D television despite what I currently think of those buying them (cough, cough, Betamax) could be the early days of holodeck technology in the works.

But, the latest piece of kit that has Star Trek rip-off all over it, is last year’s rise of the tablet computer or pad. Star Trek: The Next Generation calls them PADD’s, Personal Access Display Device, Steve Job’s team didn’t really stray too far for inspiration. These have been made incredibly thin and light and are generally useless without a wireless connection to the internet, something that is very much like the ones seen in Star Trek.

What we’ve not done as yet, unlike our Star Trek friends, is a great deal of business on them. 2011 is undoubtedly the year that the tablet will make its name in businesses.

With Cisco readying its Cius tablet, Unleashed is looking to deploy these in businesses over the coming months in combination with our virtualisation solutions. After all, unlike a consumer tablet we want these things tied heavily into the business environment – rather than just for blogging and playing on the internet!

The other important thing that devices such as the Cius will do for us, much like the Enterprise’s set-up is help take advantage of the powerful servers in the office and reduce desktop costs. Instead of a desktop phone, a mobile phone, a computer and often a laptop for an employee. We can cut the number of devices right down to a single device that uses various means of connection to hook back up to the company’s servers so that applications and information can be accessed.

Don’t get me wrong there are many different applications that will require different amount of computing power at the desk, but for the vast majority a single device is likely to be a realisable goal. I for one would like to carry a couple less devices around with me and be able to be as productive on a tablet as I could on my laptop.

I for one though am still awaiting voice recognition technology that actually works and can understand Cumbrian.