I was a bit young during the time that I remember VR being hyped up so I can't really add to its discussion. I do however remember the Power Glove and Lawn Mower Man and I do remember thinking that VR was going to be everywhere in no time. If you asked people in the 50's what kind of personal vehicles we would have by the millennium they would tell you that we would all have flying cars. And when the hoverboard was featured in BTTF II, I could have sworn you would be able to buy one the week after. These days I'm not so easily cajoled. As someone who hears the words 'Master Plan' a lot in my profession, I have to say it's laughable. Predictions of the future rarely come true, yet I understand the temptation. So, in the spirit of argument (and in giving into temptations), let me declare - 3d printers will NEVER be in the AVERAGE middle-class home. The reason is simply because it will never be practical enough. This to me though this isn't even close to what is actually compelling about 3d printing because I do believe that they are revolutionizing the way we design and build and the way we think about design and build.
First off, coupling two technologies like VR and 3D Printing for a discussion is myopic at best and does neither of their virtues any service. I think that VR is WAY more complex than 3d printing in terms of mechanics. Fooling haptics is no easy task. But what is really interesting to me concerning 3d printing is the way is allows us to think about material differently. It's on par in this respect to the recent molecular gastronomy food movement in terms of a complete paradigm shift. I wouldn't really call this molecular gastronomy, but check out MIT's food printer: http://web.media.mit.edu/~marcelo/cornucopia/ as one example. Printing chicken nuggets at home is now a reality even if it it is quite silly. Printing in terms of its architectural merit is more realistic and what I want to focus on...
Printing lets us think of material in terms of its basic components and their propensity to amalgamate and that's really exciting. I once heard someone say that Legos are destroying design because they allow for only additive, i.e. tectonic, making which is the counterpoint to something like carving terracota which is subtractive making, or stereotomic. Printing makes us think about both simultaneously. As we discover ways to 'powderize' more materials, then our horizons will continually expand. Right now on Shapeways, we can order a print in plastic, metal, ceramic, and glass http://www.shapeways.com/materials/ and there are places that can fire or dip anything printed so the question of quality and durability is now irrelevant. Also, I can't believe that wood isn't being printed yet - think medium density fiberboard (MDF). The truth is, entire commodity chains will be affected by the way printing consumes material.
Another important aspect of printing is the way it grants people access to advanced design. I've been actually playing with 3d printing for about 10 years now myself and I can say first hand how incredibly liberating it is to send my rhino file to the printer and watch it bake. Try it and your mind will explode (just like the first time you used Napster) For me, printing allows us to create beautiful designs like people used to spend time doing. I think there is a direct lineage from Louis Sullivan's frieze: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_zJpnTu57Koc/TF48wG6rkRI/AAAAAAAAVt... to Michael Hansmeyer's computational architecture: http://www.michael-hansmeyer.com/projects/columns.html#1 decoration is affordable again. And, oh shit, look at what's coming next: http://cosmopolitanscum.com/2011/09/23/the-worlds-first-prin.... In the future this will be no biggie.
There really is no way to accurately predict where a technology still in its infancy will take us in a hundred years. I'm more interested in the concept of bringing the manufacturing process into the home, not in the specific ways we currently do it. Or in other words, look at the big picture.
- Waldoes since 1989
- Head-tracking since 2004 or so
- 3d displays since 2000
- haptic feedback since 2003
...yet nobody has rolled them all together because there's no interest and no application.
Cadillac started researching head-up displays for cars back in the mid '70s. Mercedes put one in an SLK back in '02. That's the last we saw of them - because it's just not something we need or use.
VR fails the "Milkshake Test:" http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2011/11/why_...
There were other cars before the Model T and there were other smart phones before the iPhone. Technology takes a lot of stumbles before it reaches a marketable, consumable state. That can take decades or even centuries. Sometimes it just takes the right person or the right company to orchestrate it. We're not even close to being able to consider dismissing VR, or 3D printing, or artificial intelligence, or countless other technologies booed down by skeptics on the sidelines.
What does a "Second Life that doesn't suck" look like? What would have made it not suck?
What does a "Newton that doesn't suck" look like? What would have made it not suck?
I know of no example of the 2ndL but as far as a "newton that doesn't suck" it sure as hell wasn't the Palm Pilot. That sucker was virtually indistinguishable from the Newton and people adopted them like hotcakes. The Newton was simply too early.
Apple had a digital camera, too.
Again, for clarity: of the people in this discussion, I'll bet I'm the only one who has actually played with 3d printing. And I did it a long goddamn time ago. And the things that made it moderately compelling in 1998 are the things that make it moderately compelling in 2012... the only difference is that 14 years later, a whole bunch of people who don't understand it have it in their heads that it's cool because they saw a blog post about candyfab.
Newton --> iPad
And you can't tell me those products aren't successful. But that's beside the point -- I'm not here to lay the blueprint for the Next Big Thing or argue the particulars of what might have been. My point is that you can't isolate a handful of failed executions of an idea and then conclude that the whole concept is doomed to obscurity or failure.
The Newton was never intended as anything but a business organizer. Comparing it to an iPad simply illustrates your ignorance of the platform.
MY point is that VR isn't "a handful" of failed executions of an idea. MY point is that a whole bunch of clever people have been devoting their lives to it for decades and its adoption is no higher now than it was when Reagan was president. Kind of how MY point is that 3d printing has been around for over 15 years and the reason it hasn't set the world afire is that nobody really wants it.
"Dangerous" is refering to the danger to his reputation, the danger that he will be shown to be wrong and in 20 years perhaps look back and say, "Gee, I didn't see that coming." Just like the movie producer in the 20s who said no one would ever want to hear actors speak.
Find me a quote. I know of no producers who said such a thing.
I think a far better example would be this:
We remember successes and look back and go "of course they were going to be successful." We seldom look back on failures and go "yep, everybody called that one."
Yeah, I'll cede there's plenty of bad ideas. I don't think 3d printing is one of them, I think we'll printing all kinds of things, including houses and cheeseburgers. No, not with the current nylons and acrylics, but the tech is on the march, and it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to see the day when 3d printers are aligning molecules precisely to create whatever the hell we want. Suppose you wanted to make a superior sword. Can you imagine a day when a 3d printer can arrange each particle of material to achieve optimal atomic arrangement of iron and carbon to create something far superior to something that can be created by the world's greatest craftsman? It's a not even a big jump from that to printing the perfect cheeseburger.
The author can't see that. I think that's his limitation.
Warner Bros. was already investing in sound. Harry Warner believed that the sound that would sell movies was music, not prose. His mistake was artistic, not technological."
Jack Warner was talking about "The Jazz Singer" which his company was releasing. Again - a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
"uppose you wanted to make a superior sword. Can you imagine a day when a 3d printer can arrange each particle of material to achieve optimal atomic arrangement of iron and carbon to create something far superior to something that can be created by the world's greatest craftsman?"
No. Because, you see, I had to take two five credit courses in steel to get my degree and I know it doesn't work that way. You make steel strong by working it. And, if I can make steel strong by working it, I can make things a hell of a lot cheaper than "printing" a sword molecule by molecule. 'cuz that's the thing - cold forged steel, hot forged steel, machined steel and cast steel are all very, very different things, above and beyond what's in the steel. And I can control that stuff with '20s era technology.
The article is talking about 3d printing. You're talking about Star Trek-style replicators.
There's a difference.
The day will come when printers can place atoms exactly and you can print an atomically perfect sword. Cheaper, faster, and easier than 20s era technology.
At any rate, it's pretty silly to compare 3D printing to VR which is not so much a new technology, but little more than putting a screen really close to your face.
Your understanding of VR is rudimentary at best.
The initial VR labs not only used telepresence gloves and head/eye tracking, they often used bizarre omnidirectional treadmills and the like. Even on a consumer level things were substantially more advanced than that. Hell, I had someone bequeath me one of these two years ago, and it was three years old then:
"Little more than putting a screen really close to your face" is a dismissive overview of the sheer amount of widgetry thrown at the problem, only to provide exactly zero consumer adoption.
Ok. I admit, I was unfairly dismissive. Back in the day I was genuinely geeked about VR. And then there was silence, and then Lawn Mower Man, and then more silence. As I said in my comment to scarp, maybe something like the Kinect could remove the widgetry barrier, and maybe that could do the trick?
Something to keep in mind: I graduated college in 1999, and we had a 3d printer. It was not rudimentary. It was expensive. You used it for what 3d printers were intended for: rapid prototyping of objects that you intended to produce using another medium and manufacturing process. As far as rapid prototyping goes, the decrease in price of 3d printers has been a boon. The world is just now waking up to the fact that you can "make things" with them but has yet to twig to the reality that you can't "make useful things" with them.
Nintendo had a "Power Glove" in 1989. Every objection anybody has had to it has been knocked clear away by technology. Yet we haven't gone back. Nintendo, inventors of the Wii and most of the new interactivity in video games, hasn't even hinted at VR.
The Kinect allows you to do motion capture on the cheap. Thing is, almost nobody has any real use for mocap. A friend of mine is shooting a movie with his twin two-year-old daughters and invading aliens; he's using a hacked kinect to provide his motion capture for the aliens and yeah, that's pretty fucking cool.
It also requires full mastery of Avid and AfterFX, not to mention Poser and a few other, more esoteric titles that the average dude isn't going to just roll together.
Could they? Probably. But people have been using game engines to create videos for half a decade now and they really haven't caught on.
3d printing is a tool, not a 2nd coming. Some tools are cooler than others - the reciprocating saw, in my opinion, radically transformed construction and heavy home maintenance. Got a zip saw and an ugly blade? Fuck the chainsaw; the zip is way more efficient, way safer, and way less stinky, smelly and noisy.
But they haven't exactly busted out of Home Depot. If you need to cut a lot of brush, or you need to cut up a car, or you need to cut up a partition wall, you know what you need. But people aren't trying to figure out all the cool things they can do with a reciprocating saw just because they exist.
My electric chainsaw is awesome for cutting branches, but I should have gotten the zip saw.
You might be right about 3D printing. But, I hope not.