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Scientists Take First Step Towards Star Trek Teleporter

German engineers create a machine which can scan an object, destroying it in the process, then transmit it over the internet and recreate it anywhere in the world using a 3D printer. Could it be the first prototype of a teleportation machine? Perhaps for the first time since palm pilots we’ll be telling each other to “beam me.”

How exactly does it work? The machine scans small objects with a camera layer-by-layer, as a milling machine slowly destroys it. By slicing the object into layers it is possible to get a detailed view of the object, even including any hollow cavities.

A detailed model is then encrypted and digitally transmitted over the internet to a second machine which reconstructs it with a 3D printer.

All of that complex work is hidden from the user, who only has to place an object into the sender unit, name a recipient and press the “relocate” button.

So does this mean if you want to be teleported you’ll need to be sliced into many layers, utterly destroyed and then reconstructed somewhere else? Most likely. But don’t take that from us. We’re just trying to scare you.

“Scotty guarantees that a personal, handmade gift remains unique when sent across distances, i.e. that there is no other copy – an important aspect that emphasises the intimate relationship between sender and receiver,” says the scientific paper published by the researchers.

The group, from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany, is now planning to make more advanced versions that can more accurately reconstruct objects.


As you can probably guess, the technology is going to need some tweaks first.

For one, objects must be painted black to increase contrast for the scanner. And the relatively cheap commercial 3D printer can only replicate objects in plastic, in one colour, and in limited resolution. Quite a lot of intricate detail is lost in scanning, transmission and reproduction. You’ll likely come out a Barbie.

One interesting problem is whether or not people will treat the recreated object the same, even once it has become sufficiently advanced to make identical replicas? Psychologists have shown that the answer is likely no, after tests that showed sentimental value could not be transferred to even identical copies of items. So far objects aren’t being transported through space so much as being recreated in another space. I suppose we’ll take what we can get, one step at a time.

[via the Telegraph]

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