The Third Industrial Revolution

Recently there has been a lot of talk about a third industrial revolution in the making. It is of course that involving 3D printing. Take a look at the other articles on the website for an overview.

The thing about these machines is that they can produce individual tailor made objects at low cost, something that was not really possible in the days of mass production, when multiples were cheap but individual one off projects very expensive.

It is a contentious technology though for several reason, the first being its versatility. A few months ago we had the first fully printed gun, the plans were put online for free before being removed but only after more than 100 000 people downloaded them.100 000 more unlicensed guns in the world possibly. Check out this article.

Another reason is that these machines will completely change manufacturing. The old days of heavy machinery in production lines might be numbered, and this means that the power and financial strength that the organizations that have control of these systems currently posess is about to be lost.

So where should somewhere like MIT here in Cambridge MA stand? They have to support new technology, it is their job, but in doing so they might be undermining their own foundations, rooted as they are in large scale US industry.

3D Printed Prosthetic Hand

3D Printed Prosthetic Hand

As well as the printable gun though there are obviously a million good uses for this technology. Two weeks ago I mentioned an engineering company that is testing an aeroplane engine that uses printed parts, and in case of dire need you can now print a prosthetic hand for about $150 through an open source website. Read the article here.

Last week the Bassetti Foundation sponsored a series of events in San Francisco based around these problems. One of the main speakers was Chris Anderson, ex editor of Wired magazine and author of the book Makers, he is a leader in thinking on these matters. There is plenty of information on the website for interested readers, including videos of the symposium about the political and social implications of a move towards 3D printed manufacture.

3D Printed Motorbike

3D Printed Motorbike

Check out the photos too, here is a printed motorbike. They can produce far more than you imagine.

The Gadget Show Live 2013

The Gadget Show's 'G' logo at The Gadget Show LiveOn Sunday the 7th of April, I went to the Gadget Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a really great day, and I want to share the experience with you, I just haven’t had time to finish this post!

First of all I must give thanks to British Gas, who were very kind to give me tickets to the sold out event. As you may know, thanks to a collaboration between Technology Bloggers and British Gas, I have been able to step into the future of smarter living, and experience how technology has the potential to improve our lives. The technology I tested was of course their Remote Heating Control system, and I got to try it a few months before the national roll-out; I reported my findings via a series, which British Gas later posted on their website.

The day was very good fun, and I live tweeted from the event – take a look at our Twitter account and you can find some of the Tweets.

There was a lot of technology on show, some of which was cutting edge stuff, just being brought to the market.

Super Show

I had tickets to the ‘super show’ which was an event in which the three presenters of the Gadget Show: Jason Bradbury, Pollyanna Woodward and Jon Bentley, showcased exciting gadgets, offering various prizes to members of the audience. The show was good, however it did feel slightly commercialised, as pretty much every third word was plugging a product!

Smarter Living

After the show, the first stand (there were hundreds!) I visited was the British Gas stand. They had been kind enough to send me to the event, so I thought it only fair to pay them a visit!

They had designed their stand to look like a home, and had equipped it with all the very latest smarter living technology. Their Safe and Secure security system, Remote Heating Control and smart meters were all on show. It was very well designed and the complimentary Stuff magazine was appreciated!

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Microsoft

A tweet I posted about the Gadget Show, had attracted the attention of the team at Microsoft Windows UK, and they invited me to check out their stand, and to use their bloggers lounge.

As the main sponsor of the event, Microsoft got a pretty big stand – making it hard to miss!

Microsoft's stand at The Gadget Show Live 2013On their stand, Microsoft were showcasing many of their different software and technologies, including IE 10, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Surface, Bing, 3D scanning software and a real time, 3D webcam!

There was quite a lot on display, and the amount of technology was quite impressive, that said, as the event was so busy, they needed it all, as their stand was quite crowded at times.

I got talking to the person manning the 3D printing section, and was then offered (as a blogger) to go to the bloggers lounge. There I met some great guys from the technology giant, including the faces of @IE_UK and @WindowsUK, and the Senior Product Manager for Windows at Microsoft UK. I was given a tour of Surface and IE 10, and got to test them out for myself. I was quite impressed.

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I love Windows 7 and don’t have any problems with it, so I have never really thought about upgrading to Windows 8, however having been given a Windows 8 license, I am going to test it – expect more soon!

AQUAdue Loo

There was some really innovative technology on show this year. One example was AQUAdue‘s toilet system, when you need to flush, a tap which runs into a basin on top of the loo, starts to run. Use this to wash your hands, and it fills up the toilet for the next flush. What a great idea to save water and space!

AQUAdue toilet system

3D Printing

TARDIS 3D printout

3D printed TARDIS cufflinks.

The 3D printer Microsoft were using on their stand was an Up! 3D Printer. On another stand there was a firm called Denford Ltd there, who were showcasing the capabilities of a 3D printer. Probably the best giveaway I got from the event were some 3D printed TARDIS cuff links – as a techie, and a Doctor Who fan what better freebie could you get?

The technology has been around for a few years now, however it’s now starting to become mass market. Fancy a 3D printer? Well they aren’t as expensive as you might think, here’s a link to somewhere you can buy an Up! Mini 3D printer for less than £1200!

3D printed objects

An Up! 3D printer and some printed objects, included a printed TARDIS, castle and Yoda.

Microsoft were also using the Up! 3D printer to showcase their 3D scanning technology. You could get your head scanned, and then a miniature version printed out, right there and then – how cool is that! Gadget Show presenter Jason Bradbury seems to think so too, as he went to get his head scanned and printed! Take a look below.

Gadget Show's Jason gets a 3D printout of his head

The Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury gets a 3D scan and print out of his head.

Too Much!

It was a really great day, and there was far too much there for me to talk about it all. Some of the best bits I have mentioned above, there’s loads more that I haven’t mentioned, mainly because I don’t want to run too far over 900 words – people tend to switch off after that!

I think from the number of tweets and images in this post, you can see that there was a lot going on 🙂

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Technology and the future of gaming

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how technology is going to impact the way we work in the future. Now I am going to let you into some treat that may be in-store for us, sooner than you might think, in the world of gaming.

More Family Integration

Critics believe that in the future, despite popular belief, gaming will not be more individual, each of us in separate rooms, but more communal, with entire families uniting, in order to play together.

This is mainly due to the rapid developments in home entertainment systems based on competition, and also movement. In 2006 we saw this trend start to develop with the launch of the Nintendo Wii. This immediately pulled people together to game, more so than ever before. Games like Wii Play, and Mario Kart have brought families (and friends) together to play across the world.

In 2010, Kinetic for the Xbox 360, adding further elements of full body participation to gaming. Later this year, Kinetic will be available for computers too. Also later this year, we are going to see the release of the Wii U, the next model of the Wii.

The Wii U

A preview at Nintendo’s new Wii: the Wii U

It is devices like the Kinetic and Wii that are making gaming more social, with even more exciting and innovative devices coming out soon, also aimed at bringing us together.

Mind Control

You read right, mind controlled games are much closer than you might think. Thanks to the developments of advanced brainwave sensors, it is now possible to control things using your mind. All you need is to wearing a simple headband and earpiece with the advanced sensors attached, as brainwaves can be captured and interpreted on your scalp.

In the near future, we could potentially have ditched the controller, and be doing battle with our minds. Games where the the more you concentrate, the better you do, are a leap forward that has been made, and will be released to the mass market very soon.

Mind control could work with all sorts of games, however currently the technology works best with simple ones, like a game of tug of war (the harder you think you pull, the harder you pull!) and archery – focus on the bullseye, and you are more likely to hit it.

Mind control can help to create a much more personal experience, when gaming. This technology can also be applied to movies. Multiple scenes can be shot, and depending upon your emotions and how you are reacting to events, you could see different things. Sound cool hu?

More Interactive Experiences

I have already talked about things like the Wii, and Kinetic, but other systems, like the the Trixter Xdream are going to revolutionise the way we play, and the way we keep fit. The Wii let us play golf and tennis in our living rooms, but it didn’t feel all that real, did it? The Xdream accurately simulates riding a bike outside, using a computer display and a modified exercise bike.

Trixter Xdream Exercise Bike

The Trixter Xdream exercise bike

This means that you can feel like you are going for an outdoor workout, on a real bike, but becoming totally immersed in the experience, in the comfort of your own home – you may need to open some windows to create the draft effect! The bike is currently on sale for around £6,000 GBP, however in the future more and more of these devices (which will get cheaper and cheaper) are going to make their way into gyms around the country, and also even our homes.

TVs are set to get smarter soon too, with firms like Samsung and Google revolutionising the way we use our televisions.

3D

3D has been around for a while now, decades in fact, however there has always been the need to wear glasses. In the very near future, we could see glassesless 3D TV’s in our homes, providing us with 3D entertainment with no goofy glasses.

This technology will be able to offer gamers total 3D immersion, making the experience feel even more real. Match that with motion technology and the gap between fiction and reality narrows even further.

To Conclude

There are so many other revolutionary technologies and products that are set to change the way we have fun in the future. I have written about just a few to wet your appetite for what is going to be appearing on the high street within the next few years.

By all means research this further, and if you find anything interesting, let me know!

Gaming is set to change, quite radically and quite soon. The question is are we ready for it?

3D printing – a revolution on the horizon?

What an achievement, this is my (Christopher Roberts’s) 100th post on Technology Bloggers!

Thank you everyone for your support, I love writing here, and that is because of the fantastic community we have created 🙂

3D printers have been around for around 20 years now, however it is only recently that they have really started to show their true potential, both in industrial and now even domestic settings.

Thanks to the recent advancements in 3D printing, CAD designs can be constructed into physical prototypes (and in some cases now even final products) by 3D printers. 3D printers have the potential to revolutionise the way we live our lives, due the variety of possibilities they unlock. 3D printing could revolutionise architecture, product design, industry, education, and so much more!

What exactly is 3D printing?

Most people have access to a normal printer, be it black and white or colour, ink jet or laser. Those sorts of printers however, only work in 2 dimensions, they can print content in the dimension that is left to right, and the dimension that is forward to back. 3D printing adds in another dimension, up and down. Therefore 3D printing means that you can print in height, length and breadth.

Why is 3D printing important?

Some critics have speculated that 3D printing will be as big, if not a bigger revolution to industry, and the way we live our lives, than the internet was. The internet has opened up so many opportunities, but it is believed that 3D printing, could possibly open up even more!

For architects, it will mean that within minutes, they will be able to print on screen prototypes of buildings, so they have a tangible product to show the customer, in virtually no time at all!

For retail, 3D printing could mean that shops hold no stock, and products (less complex ones at first, but branching out in the future) could be made to order, on site! No longer would shops be out of stock, so long as they have material to print on, they can make new products, there and then.

For healthcare, the new printing capabilities will mean that body part replacements can be accurately measured, designed, and then printed. Yeah, printed bones! Just last month, it was publicised that the first 3D printed jaw had transplanted onto the face of a woman from the Netherlands. The jaw was matched to the shape of the patient’s original jaw, using CAD modelling, and then layers of titanium powder were melted into shape by the powerful lasers that make up the 3D printer.

How do 3D printers work?

Different 3D printers work in different ways. Some work by building the object slowly, layer upon layer in an upwards direction, whilst others work by cutting down into a material. The titanium jaw example from above was built by building upwards creating layers upon layers of material, from titanium powder fused together by laser.

What materials can be ‘printed’ on?

Currently you can ‘print’ on plastics, metals, ceramics, glass, and even certain malleable foods (such as sugars and chocolate). In the future that selection of materials is likely to be expanded, and some even believe that we could grow human bone, and then 3D print replacements – that is still a way off at the moment though!

Could you get a 3D printer?

Many firms are looking to capitalise on the decreasing cost of 3D printers, so much so that some companies are now offering (simpler) domestic versions for home use!

One firm selling 3D printers to the domestic market is the New York company MakerBot. Makerbot are offering a basic 3D printer, which can create plasic objects using CAD software, for $1,749 (around £1,100).

MakerBot's 3D PrinterIn an interview with the BBC, MakerBot’s chief executive Bre Pettis, claimed that the printer is “a machine that makes you anything you need” which is “handy in an apocalypse or just handy for making shower curtain rings and bathtub plugs.”

Mr Pettis also said he hoped to get his printers “into the hands of the next generation because kids these days are going to have to learn digital design so they can solve the problems of tomorrow”.

Another company, (called 3D systems) is offering its ‘Cube’ 3D printers at a similar price to Makerbot, marketing it as a tool to express your creativity. The company is currently working on an app that will allow users to use the Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor to create objects, simply by moving their hands through the air!

3D Systems 3D printer - Cube

Some of 3D Systems ‘Cube’ printers, prining 3D objects

3D printing is bringing to the global market a fast and increasingly affordable way of turning ideas into reality. No longer will the joys of flexible design be limited to those with CAD jobs and the luxury of a prototype department. There is now a big incentive for people to learn CAD techniques and how to use CAD software. Many countries are now investing in 3D printing technologies, as they can see the potential; IT jobs in the UK and abroad are likely to see big benefits from this.

3D printing is real, and it is here.

So, what do you think about 3D printing, will it revolutionise the way we live our lives – even as much as the internet did? Or do you think that it is a waste of resources, and that it will never really be cost effective enough to be used on a mass scale?