Today the WordPress daily prompt is, What will the next technological innovation be? Since they use the phrase, “The Next Big Thing” I am assuming they mean something that’s going to be new and then omnipresent, like wheels and soap and smartphones.
Emailing your stuff. That’s clearly what’s next. You don’t drag your suitcase to the airport anymore, you pack it, scan it in, and then you use a 3-D printer somewhere at your destination to make a you a copy of that.
But 3-D printers are just technology, and technology always improves until it looks like magic. I’m sure the Wright Brothers would be shocked at the flying hotels we buzz around in now. Charlie Chaplin, meet James Cameron. It’s inevitable, like pushing a boulder a few inches and then wondering if you could push it to Cleveland.
Of course you can. It’s just a bunch of inches.
The price will go down, and the quality will go up. Radio waves, vacuum tubes, VHS players, CDs, BluRay – 3D Printers will be no different until pretty soon, we’ll all have a decent one, and that’s where we’ll keep a lot of our stuff.
It’ll be cool, too. Want to go on a trip? Pull up your laptop, click the bathroom file, and copies of all of your typical bathroom accessories are uploaded to your Virtual Suitcase. Click on some outfits, a bathing suit, maybe your freaking bicycle. Enter your destination, click send and then you’re off to the airport, step on the plane with no luggage.
Once you get to your hotel, all of your stuff has been 3D printed from the Virtual Suitcase you sent along with your reservation and payment method, and it’s sitting there in your room waiting for you. If you spill anything on your favorite dress – no problem. They can print you one downstairs, and you just hand the old one back in and it gets recycled into the Printer Substance Buffer.
Like everything, at first it will be very expensive and a sort of novelty – you’ll have to put up with imperfections, like people will start to notice that their hair dryers stop working a few months after they’ve been printed. Maybe you’ll print a whole suitcase, and six months later the handle falls off. It won’t matter though, you just print yourself a new hair dryer and a new suitcase. A mere nuisance til you get back to the house.
What’s the matter, Sam? Oh, nothing Bill. I just had my jacket teleported here and it smells like cheese for no reason. They’re printing me a new one, but I’m going to be ten minutes later to dinner now!
In the end, I’m not talking about the Next Big Thing so much as the Last Big Thing. The Next Big Thing will be the end of Things as we know them – the complete, free access to whatever Things we want, whenever we want them.