The era of the 3D Printer seems to have arrived for general consumption, and I was thinking about the ramifications of this upon our world. Much has been made of the way in which the technology will shift consumer behaviour as well as reshaping the way in which goods are transported to the public.
Consumers will, in the future, be able to download a set of plans and print anything from a pair of running shoes to a pizza, the pharmaceuticals they need and perhaps even water. Why not?
This is interesting but I got thinking about space travel, an interest of mine since childhood, and how 3D Printing will allow us to conquer new worlds.
The human body is quite fragile and it doesn’t really like space, radiation, or lack of gravity, so we’ve always been a bit stuck as to how we might reach interstellar space. Space travel is also expensive, things are heavy, science is hard, and we seem to have more important things to worry about.
To my mind, the best way to get over this is to send a small rocket into space with a small 3D Printer on board. When it arrives at its destination, the printer can then set about printing a robot which can be used to source raw materials from the planet/object upon which it has landed to print a bigger printer. From one small printer an entire functioning system of habitation, tools, mining craft and larger printers can be built over time.
And then I thought, what if that is our gift to the galaxy. An array of printers, each replicating printed 3 dimensional objects which can function automatically. What if these then become self aware and they attack anyone and anything that threatens their self-determined right to replicate. These are printers, they can print anything.
It sounds surreal but I can imagine in the far future, a humanoid or other sentient being arriving on a new planet which is overrun by printers and their offspring.
Printers that would also be sentient, that would defend their right to print, to source raw material from this planet. Perhaps even to build a tiny rocket, with a tiny printer on board, from which these printers will be able to colonise the universe, one small print at a time.
I was recently invited to participate in a panel discussion on MTV with Ted Chung and a few others.
Fully customised Web Development for the Department of Energy to manage the bid and tender process for renewable energy in South Africa.
So there is a new buzz around Twitter, it’s called Vine, a small app which allows 6 seconds of video, set on loop, to play through your iDevice.
It sounds like a new gimmick that won’t last, except that it is perfect for Twitter. There will be a fad around the 6″ video for a while, and there will be come clever campaigns targeted at the tech-savvy in the next 2 months, but I predict that it won’t drop off the radar. It’s too interesting and too much in sync with Twitter to just go away.
6 Seconds may not be long, but it’s 6 seconds longer than anything before it. Built in to Twitter, it’s going to be a very useful toy to explain some difficult things.
Try it out.
One of the biggest shifts in late 2012, which will shape the landscape of products and, especially services and entertainment in the future, is the awareness by consumers that they really can get tailormade services delivered to their doorstep – and they are in control of it.
There are, of course, a host of pretentious names for this new consumerism, from ProSumers to Custowners, but the basic principle is the same: Don’t be forced to pay for things you ‘kind of’ like, because there is no choice, rather use the established idea of crowdsourcing and crowd-funding to pay for the tailored content and services that you want.
I am expecting to see the major TV networks miss a beat here, as the record industry did 10 years ago. If a show is cancelled because ‘ratings are low’ but 1 million people around the world like it, get together, pay $20 each per episode, and get it produced.
These are not new ideas, but they are ideas whose time has come in the mind of the consumer and in the availability of the tech to support it.
What I imagine this means is that the Hollywood budget blockbusters will remain, but with a more limited appeal. Mega-salaries for stars will drop as the indie, well-made pieces, will finally have a platform from which to self-fund and to cater for the kinds of markets, internationally, which have made local productions fail up until now.
Take this kind of thinking and adapt it to any product or service and it’s a game-changer. Want insurance without all the red-tape – crowd-design and source a funding pool to pay out instead. Adapt this to anything and everything and what you get is a reverse-Groupon, the crowd determining the products and services that they want to use and interact with, or developing totally new paradigms of conversation, products and services.
How business and brands react to this is going to be interesting, I predict, as usual, a slow uptake, some serious issues in the entertainment industry and an exciting time for product development – a 7-billion-strong think-tank should see some powerful ideas take form. The next 12 months is going to force us all to rethink Branding, once again. This is, a very good thing.