Off-screen stage hands ensured the automatic doors on shows like Star Trek and The Next Generation always opened with impeccable timing and speed. And now Japanese robotics researchers have developed an intelligent sensor that could make the automatic doors at your local supermarket far less stupid.
To be more specific, the sensors used on most automatic doors are easily fooled by people simply walking past them, and are often very slow to react when someone is approaching. But using lasers and advanced algorithms, these doors will attempt to guess if someone actually wants to pass through, and based on their rate of approach, it will adjust the speed of the opening doors so the person doesn't have to slow down.
Unfortunately, the researchers estimate their new sensors could add as much as £590 to the price of an automatic door. And that's a cost your local Piggly Wiggly probably isn't willing to stomach. But as the components get cheaper over time, hopefully we won't have to wait until we have warp-speed spaceships to see this technology actually being implemented. [YouTube via IEEE Spectrum]