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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

Beam Me Up, Scotty

In my Monday Morning Movie, I talked about the Power of Positive Constraints and how implementing structure can help us become more creative.

Shortly after posting the video, a friend of mine, Brad Kolar, offered up a perfect example of an innovation derived from the Power of Positive Constraints:  The teleportation machine used in the Star Trek series, which led to the now famous line, “Beam me up, Scotty.”

According to, a transporter is a “device that converts objects or persons to energy, sends that energy to the destination, and reconstitutes the objects/persons back into matter.”

While this seems perfectly fitting as a Sci-Fi invention, in actuality, the concept itself was devised out of a constraint for both money and time.

According to a report in the Huffington Post, “the original series’ creators devised this shimmery special effect because they didn’t have the budget to show a spaceship landing on various planets.”  This would have required unfeasible and unaffordable sets and model filming.

In howtogeek, they illustrate the more cost/time effective method used for transporting the crew off the ship.  All that was required was a slow-motion camera inverted, backlighting, and some aluminum power (effects that can now be easily done with computer animation).

The constraints of time and money had this TV crew generate a piece of TV history that not only addressed their concerns, but will long outlive the great Captain Kirk himself.

As a side note: As famous as the catchphrase, “Beam me up, Scotty” was, sources indicate that the phrase was never uttered by anyone in the original series.