Future thinking.

It’s hard to try and imagine what the future might look like. Companies like Micro$oft spend big bucks trying to invisage the future (video here) and what part their products would play in it. If they can predict the future, they can adjust their products to suit and stay ahead of their competitors.

However to really see the future you have to untangle yourself from the current. Extrapolating the past over the present and somehow get a feeling of future direction but be “above” the current way of thinking. The issue is that, of what actually comes true in the future there are many things that actually influenced by these visions that we come up with. Series like Star Trek for example are full of extrapolations to the future but our designers and engineers are influenced by these series so not particularly unbiased.

Every now and again though you come across a piece of information that gives you the feeling that you can get a glimpse into the future. A future that our children will grow up in. On such piece of information is a link I came across for a company that makes prostetics. The company is called Bespoke Innovations and the prostetics they make are not your run of the mill legs and arms. The prostetics this company is making are all bespoke items. Bespoke meaning that each and every item is different and personalised to the user. Shape, colour and material..

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Uusually products get made by the bulk load and get made all the same. It keeps the cost down and so a bigger profit can be made. Since prostetics are very personal, people are willing to pay the extra cost to have something that fits them personally. The way though that the company is making the prostetics is very clever. The parts that are customised are actually “fairings” ( or clip-on parts) on a base prostetic device. It is made modular. So the cost of a customised leg or arm is kept down. The other way they keep cost down is by not using conventional manufacturing methods to make the customised modules but by 3D printing them. This negates the need to make expensive tooling, but also allows for complex shapes to be made. Shapes that would be cost prohibitive or even impossible to make in any other way.

This link to the companies’ website might give you an inkling of what the future might look like. Imagine that anything you buy is either fully or partly customised. Eevrything is modular and thus parts or the whole thing can be customisable. You buy an alarm clock but the shape of the outside is customised to suit your taste and the style of your bed room. The inside might be a standard module. This also means that they don’t hold stock of alarm clocks. Perhaps the inside parts but further into the future maybe not even that. Instead of getting a cardboard box with a clock in it from your local electronics shop, it will be “materialised” for you.. right there and then. A one of. Especially for you.

So, no stock of “stuff”.. I like the sound of that. And products customised to me. I like that to. But if we can “materialise” things. sure we can do it the other way round as well right? Take our broken products for example and recycling them back. I like that even more. Reusing everything time and time again. We might even start digging up our rubbish tips to “de-materialise” everything to re-use it to make our new and customised products. Sounds good to me!

Come to think of it.. The equipment that we’d be using sounds very similar to a Replicator from Star Trek right? Well.. There you go.. We’re coming back to the point that we are influenced by past visions of the future..

No escaping the past if you live in the present and imagining the future!

 

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