A holodeck is a simulated reality facility located on starships and starbases in the fictional Star Trek universe. The holodeck was first seen in the pilot episode of ', "Encounter at Farpoint". An episode of ', "The Practical Joker", anticipated the idea in the 1970s by portraying a recreation room capable of holographic simulations. The concept of a holodeck was first shown to humans through an encounter with the Xyrillan race in the "" episode "Unexpected".

In recognition of a holodeck's potential usefulness for combat training, research is underway to create such a facility. [W. Swartout et al, " [http://people.ict.usc.edu/~hill/hill-publications/Agents-2001-MRE.pdf Toward the Holodeck: Integrating Graphics, Sound, Character and Story] " "Proceedings of Fifth International Conference on Autonomous Agents" May 2001 New York: ACM Press: 409 - 416] [Marc Cavazza et al, " [http://www-scm.tees.ac.uk/f.charles/publications/conferences/2000/vsmm2000.pdf Interactive Storytelling in Virtual Environments: Building the “Holodeck”] " "Proceedings of VSMM, 2000"]


The holodeck is depicted as an enclosed room in which objects and people are simulated by a combination of replicated matter, tractor beams, and shaped force fields onto which holographic images are projected. Sounds and smells are simulated by speakers and fragranced fluid atomizers, respectively. The feel of a large environment is simulated by suspending the participants on force fields which move with their feet, keeping them from reaching the walls of the room (a virtual treadmill). Nitpickers have criticized one of Picard's logs in "Encounter at Farpoint" for being motivated not so much by the story as by a need to explain to viewers that the holodeck is a very realistic simulation. [Phil Farrand, "Updated Conundrum Tote Board" "The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers, Vol. 2" New York: Dell (1995): 123]

Most holodeck programs shown in the episodes run in first person "subjective mode", in which the user actively interacts with the program and its characters. The user may also employ third-person "objective mode", in which he or she is "apart" from the actual running of the program and does not interact with it (all of the program's characters will ignore the user as if they were not there—this was shown in the "Enterprise" episode "These Are the Voyages...").

Matter created on the holodeck ("holomatter") requires the holoemitters to remain stable and will quickly disintegrate if it is removed from the holodeck without a mobile emitter to sustain it, although this principle has been overlooked in some episodes, and nitpickers have identified most of these instances. Writer Phil Farrand has often pointed out how in many episodes matter from the holodeck that gets on a real person (water splashing on a real person's clothes or lipstick on a real person's cheek) still exists when the real person exits the holodeck. In "Encounter at Farpoint", Wesley Crusher falls into a holodeck stream, but is still wet after exiting the holodeck. In "The Big Goodbye", Picard has lipstick on his cheek after encountering a holodeck simulation of an old girlfriend. In "Elementary, My Dear Data", Data and Geordi LaForge exit the holodeck with a piece of paper that originated in the holodeck. [Phil Farrand. "The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers" New York: Dell (1993)]

In most episodes, the holodeck is controlled by voice commands, though physical controls have been shown in a few episodes.

The holodeck includes safety protocols to protect the users. Viewers have criticized many holodeck-oriented episodes in that safety protocols are predictably disabled in order to create suspense when the show's main characters are trapped in the holodeck.


Starfleet personnel use holodecks for both recreation and training. They are used to recreate or simulate settings and events for analysis, such as to explore the forensics and logistics of a crime scene for law enforcement purposes, or for scientific experimentation. In general, the holodeck "functions as a cultural repository of narrative possibilities that would normally be excluded from the ship's own sociohistorical moment" and "allows the Enterprise community to include even that which it excludes by containing the excluded within a proper, controlled place which in no way intrudes upon the everyday space of the ship." [Sarah Hardy & Rebecca Kukla, "A Paramount Narrative: Exploring Space on the Starship Enterprise" "The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism" 57 2 (1999): 182.]

The Emergency Medical Hologram on ships such as USS "Voyager" applies holodeck technology to present a single "character" within the otherwise natural environment of the ship's sickbay. In one episode, Captain Janeway and Harry Kim mention having used a holodeck as children. This is a continuity error – the holodeck was referenced in the first season of "" as being fairly new technology.

An example of the holodeck's recreational functions are the holosuites that are owned and rented out – often for sexual purposes – by Quark on Deep Space Nine. Indeed, some commentators believe that if the holodeck came to exist in real life, it would be used mostly for sexual purposes. [Lawrence Kraus & Stephen Hawking, "The Physics of Star Trek". New York: Basic Books (2007): 130. "I would have expected that sex would almost completely drive the holodeck."]

Writing stories and plotlines for the holodeck is an activity pursued by people known as "holonovelists". It was the chosen profession of Lt. Tom Paris of the USS "Voyager", and he pursued it when the ship finally returned from the Delta Quadrant in the show's finale.

Notable appearances of the holodeck

It has been noted Star Trek has "a number of interesting 'holodeck' episodes that very roughly point towards interesting philosophical and sociological issues of virtual realities". [cite journal|last=Ford|first=Paul J.|date=2001|title=A further analysis of the ethics of representation in virtual reality: Multi-user environments|journal=Ethics and Information Technology|publisher=Kluwer Academic Publishers|volume=3|pages=113–121]

The first episode featuring a holodeck was "The Practical Joker", a non-canon animated episode in which it was called a "recreation room". Due to interference with the ship's computers, several crew members were trapped in it.

There were several incidents of crew being trapped or injured by holodeck malfunctions in later episodes. [Thomas Richards, "The Meaning of Star Trek". New York: Doubleday (1997): 108 - 109. The Enterprise-D "has two mechanisms aboard that seem especially prone to failure ... the transporter and the holodeck."] One resulted in the shooting of the ship's historian on board "Enterprise". In the episode "A Fistful of Datas", Lt. Worf, his son Alexander, and Counselor Troi were trapped in an 19th century American West adventure with the safety protocols disabled when a computer experiment involving Lt. Cmdr. Data went awry. Worf received a minor gunshot wound when the computer began remaking all the characters as replicas of Data. However he was able to safely play out the story, and once the story ended the trio was able to leave the holodeck.

The disabling of a holodeck's safety protocols was used as a tactical advantage in "", when under attack from the Borg, Jean-Luc Picard disables the security protocols and grabs a holographic tommy gun, shooting and killing several Borg drones.

The holodeck was used as a plot device to explore metaphysical questions, in such episodes as "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship in a Bottle", in which a holodeck character becomes self-aware and contemplates the nature of his identity and continued existence. [Richards (1997): 114]

imilar technology in other works

* Ray Bradbury was perhaps the first science fiction author to envision a simulated environment similar to the holodeck. His 1951 book of short stories, "The Illustrated Man", includes a story called "The Veldt", in which a children's nursery can create material objects based on thought.
* The 1974 Japanese TV series "Space Battleship Yamato" ("Star Blazers" in English syndication) features a "resort room" which allowed the crew to combat homesickness by immersing themselves in simulated scenes of Earth.
* In the "X-Men" comic book series, the X-Men train in the Danger Room. In the earliest version of this room depicted in the 1960s, the Danger Room utilized mere mechanical devices to simulate threats, but the version depicted followed an upgrade by the extraterrestrial Sh'iar in the early 1980s utilizes sophisticated holograms, robots, and other sensory simulation to create environments as realistic as those on the holodeck. In the film "", the Danger Room's holography is shown to be a combination of light projection and solid objects.
* In the science fiction television series "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis", some advanced races (such as the Asgard and the Ancients) have holo technology.
* In the series "Jake 2.0", the protagonist was seen training in a holographic room in one of the early episodes.
*In the series "", the rangers train in a similar room on at least two occasions.
* In "Futurama", the "Nimbus" is equipped with a "holoshed", a parody of the holodeck.
* "Madden NFL 09" features a "holographic environment" for players to train.

ee also

*Artificial reality
*Augmented reality
*Cave Automatic Virtual Environment
*Methods of virtual reality
*Mixed reality
*Narrative environment
*Omnidirectional treadmill
*Virtual retinal display
*Volumetric display



* P. Farrand, "Nitpicker's Guide for Deep space Nine Trekkers" New York: Dell (1996): 44 - 47
* Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg, Chapter 7, "The Holodeck" "The Computers of Star Trek". New York: Basic Books (1999): 127 - 144
* R. Sternbach & M. Okuda, "Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual" New York: Bantam Books (1991)

External links

* [http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/library/technology/article/105222.html Holodeck at STARTREK.COM]
* [http://www.calormen.com/Star_Trek/FAQs/holodeck-faq.htm Holodeck and Computers FAQ by Joshua Bell]

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