Remember how Captain Picard and other Enterprise crew members in Star Trek would talk to each other, or the ship’s computer, using a cool pin attached to their uniforms? It turns out, Google made its own version, where we could talk to the Google search tool. If you’re already on your way to the Google Play Store looking for this gadget, don’t bother, because although a prototype was made, it never went any further.
The revelation came from Google’s Amit Singhai, Senior Vice President of Search, in an interview with Time. “I always wanted that pin,” he told the publication, “You just ask it anything and it works. That’s why we were like, ‘Let’s go prototype that and see how it feels.’” Sadly, it obviously didn’t feel right, and the Communicator-style pin never went beyond the early test phase.
Singhai admits to being a massive Star Trek fan, and says the Google pin was not only inspired by, but also modeled after the one used in the TV shows and movies. It connected to another device using Bluetooth, had a built-in microphone, and only needed a tap to wake it up. The answers to questions posed would be broadcast through its own speaker, or a set of connected headphones.
In a picture Singhai is shown wearing the pin, which appears to be circular with an LED indicator light, although most of the detail is obscured or too hard to make out. It’s not explicitly stated, but the pin most likely operated using Google Now, the company’s clever predictive software commonly used on its phones.
While Google’s Combadge pin never became an actual product we can all buy and wear, there are several other ways to talk to devices other than our phones in public, if that’s your desire. The easiest is to grab yourself an Android Wear smartwatch and start chatting away, while Google Glass also liked having a conversation, although only the wearer could hear the responses.
If you’re desperate for a Google-made Communicator pin, there’s no indication the project will be resurrected; but if there’s enough interest now the word is out one exists, perhaps it’ll change its mind.
Michael Wynn is CEO of Full Blast Creative where he spends his time developing digital marketing and technology-based solutions for a wide variety of clients. When he’s not working he’s driving kids to sports or playing goalie for beer league hockey games.