Precisely when the Federation adopted the LCARS system is unknown. An LCARS-like interface was first seen in 2287 aboard the USS Enterprise; however, this interface was removed six years later, suggesting the technology was not yet mature. By 2363, the LCARS interface was ubiquitous, with only a handful of facilities still using the older designs.
The LCARS system runs on the Federation's isolinear and bioneural computer hardware. It can be installed on shipboard computers, desktop terminals and portable equipment.
- Input: Data and commands can be entered through touchscreens, keypads, or spoken words. The system is capable of understanding natural language; no specific commands need to be memorized.
- Output: The LCARS system is capable of synthesizing speech and displaying text or graphics, depending on the available hardware. The GUI can reconfigure itself depending on the task being performed.
LCARS has a very shallow learning curve, allowing personnel to use it reliably with little training. Thanks to the voice interface, even laymen are capable of performing complex tasks, such as interstellar navigation or combat.
The nature of the touch interface means tactile feedback will be limited, which may hamper tasks that rely on precision control; perhaps as a response to this, a steering column was added to certain starships for manual flight control. Being fully electronic in nature, the LCARS interface is more susceptible to failure than a mechanical control system.