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Tony Grist

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The Next Big Thing [Apr. 11th, 2014|11:09 am]
Tony Grist
I remember the first mobile phones. You'd see men- they were always men- strutting around with shoeboxes clamped to their ears and you'd think, "Drug Dealer!"

I  remember the first home computers. My girlfriend had one. I used to go to her house to play arcade games on it. I certainly never foresaw a time when I'd be doing, well, what I'm doing now.

The next big thing is the 3D printer. The technology exists. Printers are being used to make everything from guns to human organs. I don't know anyone who owns one yet, but I expect I soon will. I expect to own one myself. They're going to change the way we consume- and the way the world does business. You want some common household object- anything from a car to a washing-up brush; you no longer go to the shop or place an order online, you simply enter a code into your household printer and "voila!". I understand the first models are well within the budget of an average middle-class family- and the price keeps coming down.

We'll wonder how we ever managed without them.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: splodgenoodles
2014-04-11 10:33 am (UTC)
My new dental splint was done by 3D printing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-04-11 10:34 am (UTC)
Wonderful!
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2014-04-11 12:35 pm (UTC)
There are always going to be people who can't figure out the interface (I see this with my parents and their newfangled cable hardware). And people who can't afford any such thing. But yes, I think you're right about changing the way the world does business, anyway.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-04-11 06:20 pm (UTC)
The rising generation won't have any difficulty with this kind of technology. The babies in my family all know how to work computers and phones.

As for the cost, I remember when TVs were only for the wealthy.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2014-04-11 06:35 pm (UTC)
In this country, it's getting so internet connections are only for the wealthy.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2014-04-11 01:05 pm (UTC)
I'm still not sure what to think. Right now, the technology's still pretty early, so as far as home printers go, it's mostly limited to various types of plastics, though ISTR there are some that can deposit certain metals or alloys. They're certainly highly useful in certain situations, like custom mechanical parts, and as you note, there are some promising nascent medical technologies - if we can reach the point of being able to simply manufacture replacement organs, that'd be a tremendous boon to thousands upon thousands of people worldwide. (Indeed, I'd be amazed if we don't, sooner or later. Then we get into the realm of replacements that are superior to the originals.. !)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-04-11 06:23 pm (UTC)
Things move fast. I remember a time when computers were great metallic things that filled whole rooms.

I understand the military are very interested in the technology.
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From: artkouros
2014-04-11 02:02 pm (UTC)
We have a 3-D printer at work. It's pretty amazing that an engineer can design some widget on his computer and have it in his hand in a few hours. I want one really bad.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-04-11 06:24 pm (UTC)
I believe they're on the market- and at less than astronomical prices.
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[User Picture]From: dadi
2014-04-11 03:28 pm (UTC)
I was thinking the same thing about the 3D printers just recently.. it will be something we just have. I remember, in 1994 I was organizing a 7-day-acquerel-painting course in the middle of nowwhere in Tuscany for a group of Germans, among which a few people who needed to remain in contact with home. We had rented a whole house, which however had no phone line. So I went and got myself a rental mobile phone, which was actually a shoebox-like thing you could attach to your car battery to charge it. It worked rather miserably, as there were no phone antennae all over the place like now, but it was astonishing to be able to phone from the top of Monte Amiata, I remember that well. It impressed me so much that I actually bought one of the first Ericsson portable phones which fit in a normal handbag 2 years later. And never have been "unreachable" since then, poor stupid me :D
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-04-11 06:27 pm (UTC)
I remember phoning home from a windy Pennine hilltop- and being so amazed that it actually worked that I wrote a poem about it.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2014-04-11 05:56 pm (UTC)
The way i see it is that everything will be available at some stage via the technology and not so far of from the universal replicators on Star Trek.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-04-11 06:29 pm (UTC)
Star Trek proves to be right on the money- yet again.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2014-04-11 06:36 pm (UTC)
I often wonder how many people have actually decided we 'needed' such a gadget and went ahead and designed it - because they saw it on Star Trek.
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