It’s almost like the fairy tale of the genie in the lamp. But you get more than three wishes â€” personal fabrication, today on Engineering Works!
All of us have wanted things that we couldn’t find. Not big or expensive, but we couldn’t find it anywhere â€” spent hours Googling. It didn’t exist.
Now information technology experts and engineers are working on an idea that may make our wishes come true. They call it fabrication laboratories, or fab labs. Your own personal genie in the lamp â€” with unlimited wishes. Almost.
Fab labs put together easy-to-use design software and computer-controlled tools so people can design and make – themselves – things that they want, but nobody makes. It sounds like it ought to be science fiction, but it’s already fact. In a small way.
How about this one? A farmer in far northern Norway kept losing some of his sheep as they grazed in the rugged hills around his farm. He used a fab lab in one of his barns to design and build little devices based on cell phones and GPS locators that the sheep wear on collars. When he couldn’t find one, he’d call its locator and it would tell him where the sheep was. Pretty slick.
This kind of personal fab lab is still mostly experimental, but the engineers working on them say they should be getting more common.
Our time is up for now, so we’re going to fabricate our way out of here. See you next time.
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