Holographic environment simulator

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Facts

  • Enclosed chamber used as tool for training and simulation, as well as general recreation
  • Commonly known as "holodeck" (in Starfleet context) or "holosuite" (in civilian context)

Technical

  • Simulations composed of a combination of projected three-dimensional images, replicated matter
    • Holographic imagery subsystem, also known as "hologrid" or "holomatrix" (TNG Short Story: "Thinking of You"; TNG: "Homeward"; VOY Short Story: "Talent Night")
      • Fundamental component of holodeck functioning, required for holodeck operation
      • Omnidirectional holographic diodesemits photon packets contained within and manipulated by low-energy force-fields, producing illusion of three-dimensional structures
        • Force-field-contained photon packets essentially serve as building blocks for larger holographic structures, simulating material interactions through direct manipulation of force-field parameters
          • Holographic resolution adjustable as necessary for individual elements
            • With sufficient computational power, resolution can potentially be reduced to molecular-level (VOY: "The Phage")
            • Most simulations, however, minimize internal and external complexity as much as possible to minimize power consumtpion of hologrid (VOY Short Story: "Talent Night")
              • Overtaxed holomatrix shuts down entirely, disrupting simulation and potentially damaging program (VOY Short Story: "Talent Night")
        • Commonly referred to as "holodeck matter", or "holomatter" (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data", "Ship in a Bottle")
          • Though not persistent outside holodecks, holomatter internal force-fields are partially self-sustaining for short durations (TNG: "The Big Goodbye")
            • Purposeful design aspect to provide for maintenance of holographic simulations through brief interruption of systems
        • Usually applied to larger objects (furniture, landscape, characters) which will not have much direct movement through participant interaction
          • Often also be used for substances which, if replicated, could lead to worsened experience; mud, filth, etc. (DS9 Novel: Mission Gamma: Twilight)
    • Matter conversion subsystem (TNG Short Story: "Thinking of You"; VOY: "Heroes and Demons")
      • Matter conversion nodes replicate objects as necessary for directly-manipulated props (VOY: "Heroes and Demons")
        • Usually applied to smaller, handheld objects to reduce manipulation complexity
          • On failure of replication systems, handheld objects can be simulated via holomatter, but computational requirements can increase on high interactions, potentially leading to loss of simulation fidelity (TNG Short Story: "Thinking of You")
        • Props can transition from former simulation method to latter smoothly as needed (VOY: "Heroes and Demons")
          • e.g., a full bookshelf simulated using the above method, with individual objects replicated when holodeck routines project high probability of direct participant interaction in near future
        • On extreme system failure, matter conversion subsystem can potentially dematerialize objects other than holodeck-generated props, though such instances are rare (TNG: "The Big Goodbye"; VOY: "Heroes and Demons")
  • Illusion of heightened internal space provided by combination of internal treadmill-like effects, internal subdivision of holodeck space
    • Individuals walking or maneuvering within holodeck simulations over long distances are held in place through partial application of holodeck force-fields, while simulation is reconfigured to provide the illusion of forward motion
    • When multiple individuals separate in a given simulation, system internally subdivides holodeck through holomatter barriers between individuals in question projecting illusion of separated individuals (if they should be visible) at greater distance
      • Maximum holodeck occupancy thus based on number of individuals able to be simultaneously subdivided such that no one individual can directly interact with projected holomatter barriers without physical approach
  • Holodeck programs consist of individual holographic elements with specific associated programs
    • As with most computer programs in 24th century era, such programs consist of individual devoted black-box subroutines serving as independent components interconnected to one another as needed
      • Interactive holographic characters based on fundamental VI framework populated with biographical and historical data and personality parameters as needed to simulate individual beings (TNG: "Booby Trap"; VOY: "Darkling")
        • In individual interactions, standard framework can be incredibly convincing, although on repeated participation, programmatic nature of framework can be more blatant, disrupting immersion (VOY: "Heroes and Demons")
        • Experimentations to expand framework such that VI framework can better withstand repeated participation have often led to results hovering in grey area between VI and AI (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data"; DS9: "His Way"; VOY; TNG Novel: Immortal Coil)
          • Such experimentations often approach nearer to AI as programs run over extended periods, resulting in increasing density of internal interconnections from learning algorithms (DS9 Novel: The Long Mirage)
          • Questions on fundamental sentience of such AI first arose c.2377 from Mark I EMH installed upon USS Voyager (VOY: "Author, Author")
    • Internal forcefield substrate used as external data storage by which holoprogram data can be encoded for independent animation and functioning from holodeck processors so long as projection continues
      • Heavily implied by general treatment of individual holographic entities across Trek
      • Individual holographic elements can thus be easily transferred from one program to another without requiring massive reprogramming efforts
        • As a result, sudden collapse of holoprogram projection can result in loss of program data for individual holographic elements (VOY Novel: The Farther Shore)
  • For protection of occupants, safety subroutines prevent or avert potentially dangerous circumstances
    • Objects identified as holding risk of injury are converted to holomatter, left immaterial when interacting with occupants (S31 Novel: Abyss)
    • On pending impact with walls, cushioning forcefields generated to slow or divert objects or occupants (S31 Novel: Abyss)

History

  • Successor technology to 23rd century environment simulation and recreation rooms (TAS: "The Practical Joker")
  • Initial implementations purely in civilian realm
    • Available to civilians as early as 2341 (VOY: "Once Upon a Time")
  • By 2364, more established implementations installed on Starfleet vessels (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")
    • Implied as new Starfleet technology in that episode