3D Printing, Smart Fridges & Smartphone Cameras: Boring, Boring, Boring!


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Dr. Patrick Dixon

Dr. Patrick Dixon is finding an awful lot to yawn about lately. And there’s lots more material where that came from, arriving on a daily basis. Concerning the world of high-tech–and putting 3D printing right up there on the list–Dixon is rocking our world just a bit when it comes to robots–and he gives us all something to think about in terms of new technology in general, with a good dose of humor thrown in.

Dixon is both entertaining and thought-provoking as he takes potshots at many of those futuristic innovations that are currently blowing our minds. He basically shrugs and says hey, maybe not so much. Or at least, maybe not so much for us little people down here on the ground.

After all, do you really envision yourself having a robot in the home? We certainly see a multitude of innovations, and many that mix up robotics with cousin technologies from 3D printing to virtual reality and more, allowing us to get a preview on everything from robotic racing toys to handheld smart robots that assist with the functionality of common tools. Most of us, however, clearly have enough on our plates within the household between kids, dogs and cats (throw in a hedgehog or two for yours truly), and a host of electronics that malfunction, need replacing, and come with their own complicated world of cords and chargers that can cause a complete meltdown when lost.


Is the idea of robotics helping us more and more in our homes just hype?

Just that pricey robotic vacuum going in circles, getting caught up in cords, and batting itself against the wall in its own frustration is a pretty good example of a questionable and high maintenance situation. Do we need also need a bumbling, full-size robot following us around doing our bidding…and requiring more maintenance? You might just be searching for that elusive peace and quiet–and simplification.

So perhaps while many high-tech innovations looked enticing in the Jetsons, will they really be affecting our lives anytime soon? That remains to be seen. Dixon, a ‘futurist,’ speaking at anti-seminar Nexterday North in Helsinki, Finland earlier this month, explained that he wants to help everyone ‘uncover the truth of innovation.’

“Let’s be careful – we need a reality check,” says Dixon.

Starting with the future of robots in our lives, and whether it’s indeed truly a growing concept for everyman, Dixon points out that they while they captivate our attention and imagination, the numbers are surprising.

“The sales of robots are only growing seven percent per year, and almost all of them are used in the auto industry,” says Dixon. “Outside of that, almost zero.”

And what about the Internet of Things and all that it spans? We certainly see a lot of cool 3D printed innovations that look like they would make life a little easier, even helping with grocery shopping and going so far as to remind you of milk levels. Isn’t that about added convenience and organizing our lives, so we have time to relax? Dixon sees it as a ridiculous sort of practice when applied to items like smart appliances in our homes today.

“It was boring then and it’s boring now,” he said. “Who on earth wants the exact same thing in the fridge every single day automatically? We take a product out, we throw it away, and the following day, automatically from Tesco, would arrive an identical item.”


Despite the attractive qualities many of today’s innovations offer–not to mention allowing us to look really cool when we have something else no one else does (for about a New York minute), Dixon makes the point that what is really going to change the world is basically a simple concept–not all this newfangled marketing mumbo jumbo that sucks money out of our bank accounts and doesn’t truly help us on a personal level.

Focusing on the idea of diverging rather than converging–which eventually sends everything new into a state of complete conformity and drives prices down–Dixon sees real transformation occurring when global populations are able to develop innovations that are really different and can go in alternate directions, rather than the same one over and over with the predictable price wars emerging.

“All innovation is divergent … convergence is ultimately extremely boring because it makes every product look the same, every car look the same, ever smartphone has the same capability,” he said. “All innovation, all true innovation, is divergent. When you converge, there’s nothing left to compete on except price, and price sucks because, when you compete on price, it’s just a race to the bottom.”

Dixon disses Bitcoin with the basic fact that he believes more cash is circulating than ever before, 3D printing because he’s grown tired of fabricating toys at this point, smart refrigerators because who needs all that completely dull and tiresome predictability in their grocery routine, as well as throwing in a powerful jab at smart phones, apps, and the smartphone camera, which is constantly becoming more complex–and for what?

“Most of the innovation is just another iteration of a smartphone app or a phone with a slightly better camera with slightly more pixels,” he said. “I’ve got more pixels in my camera than I know what to do with already.”

While Dixon puts a great deal of blame on the media for sensationalizing many new innovations in the high-tech world, he also takes time to point out pragmatically that of course he sees technology like 3D printing as having impact in higher-level sectors of medicine and industry. He wants real products that offer real solutions though. And while that may be something you already hear touted in basic marketing quite often, Dixon projects that futuristic innovations which offer diagnostics or self-sustainability and modern conveniences to developing nations are where we will really see success and true value.

Is 3D printing and these other technologies being over hyped?  Let’s hear your thoughts in the 3D Printing Hype forum thread on 3DPB.com. one word

[Source: alphr]

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