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.
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
Check out the photos too, here is a printed motorbike. They can produce far more than you imagine.
On 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.
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!
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!
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!
On 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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
The Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury gets a 3D scan and print out of his head.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?