Holodeck

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Holodeck on Enterprise-D

The holodeck (or holosuite) is a technology in the Star Trek universe which allows the user to create a life-like virtual environment through the use of holograms. It can be used for training[1] or research[2], but has primarily achieved popularity as a form of entertainment.

Contents

Design

When not in operation, a holodeck looks like an empty chamber. Holographic emitters and force field generators are embedded in the walls and one or more control surfaces are usually available, either as a stand-alone console or as a wall panel. The holodeck generally has only one exit.[3]

Inside the holodeck, a virtual environment is created via holograms made tangible through the use of force fields. In order to simulate outdoor areas, landscapes can be projected on the walls[4]. Through optical illusions, the holodeck can support multiple users, each seeing a different part of the simulation.[5] Some permanent objects (such as food items) can also be introduced to the environment using replicator technology.

Holodecks are equipped with safety settings to prevent the injury or death of their users. Without these safeties, the holodeck is as dangerous as whatever environment it simulates.[6] Deactivating the safeties can theoretically be done only by authorized personnel[7]; in practice, if any kind of malfunction occurs in a holodeck's hardware or software, the safeties will almost certainly fail.[8]

Usage

Most holodecks carry a library of pre-programmed simulations.[9] Additionally, programs are available commercially, either for sale[10] or for rent, from Ferengi traders or other market-driven societies. Users can also create their own holodeck programs by giving the computer voice commands describing the environment to simulate.

After selecting or defining a program, the user enters the simulation. The program generally ends when one or more objectives have been completed.[11] The user can save and restore his or her progress at any time, reset the simulation, or alter its contents.[12]

At any time the user can call for a control console (or "arch") to manipulate the simulation or access the holodeck's exit door.[13]

It is possible for the user to create his or her own holoprogram. This can be done by using existing sensor or library computer data[14], via voice commands[15] or through written text.[16]

Risks and Incidents

While holodecks are a widely-used technology, and commercial holodecks have a respectable safety record, the holodecks in use on Federation starships have shown a significant amount of unexpected behaviour and outright malfunctions. The holodeck safeties in particular are prone to failure;[17] and even with the safeties working, it is possible to receive injuries on the holodeck.[18] Additionally, it is often difficult or impossible to evacuate users from a malfunctioning holodeck, and simply turning off the simulation with people inside can be dangerous to the occupants.[19]

In two peculiar incidents, the holodeck accidentally created a fully sapient artificial intelligence.[20]

Holodecks draw a surprisingly large amount of a ship's power, such that it is wise shut them down during any situation that requires the full power of the ship. If a power drain is sufficiently critical, the computer will cut power to the holodecks automatically.[21]

The holodeck on the USS Voyager was powered by it's own dedicated reactors that, according to Ensign Kim, were not compatible with any other systems on the ship. This somehow meant that while the rest of the ship was having major power outages due to limited fuel reserves, the holodeck could still run without any need for rationing.[22] Of course this begs the question why they couldn't fix it to be compatible.

See Also

References

  1. DS9 "The Magnificent Ferengi"
  2. TNG "Identity Crisis"
  3. TNG "The Big Goodbye"
  4. TNG "Encounter at Farpoint"
  5. TNG "Elementary, Dear Data"
  6. Star Trek: First Contact
  7. TNG "Descent"
  8. TNG "The Big Goodbye", "A Fist Full of Datas", "Emergence", DS9 "Our Man Bashir", etc.
  9. Star Trek: First Contact
  10. DS9 "Our Man Bashir"
  11. DS9 "Our Man Bashir"
  12. TNG "The Big Goodbye"
  13. Star Trek: Generations
  14. TNG "Ship in a Bottle"
  15. TNG "Schisms"
  16. VOY "Author, Author"
  17. TNG "The Big Goodbye", "A Fist Full of Datas"
  18. TNG "Conundrum" - a crew member injured her shoulder in a diving simulation
  19. TNG "The Big Goodbye"
  20. TNG "Elementary, Dear Data", VOY "Spirit Folk"
  21. TNG "Booby Trap"
  22. VOY Parallax
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