The inventions that are stranger than science fiction

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have unveiled a device that delivers needle-free injections. Instead of a painful jab, it uses a jet to administer medicine doses from a gun-shaped gadget. And, as other commentators have pointed out, it looks a lot like the machine Bones McCoy used for a similar task in Star Trek. However, MIT's is far from the first technological advance predicted by the sci-fi serial.

While cloaking devices, tractor beams and phaser stun guns may all still be stuck in development hell, Star Trek's flip-top communicator, for example, is already out of date. Mobile phones have moved on from flip-top "clamshells" such as the Motorola Razr, and smartphones are a lot more sophisticated than even their Star Trek equivalents. Did Mr Spock ever tweet from his communicator? Thought not. Uhura's comms earpiece looks rather cumbersome compared to a Bluetooth headset, and Jean-Luc Picard's PADD isn't a patch on the similarly named (if not spelled) iPad.

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