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Fancy being able to develop an idea and physically create it all while you’re sat at your desk.  The arrival of 3D printing has opened up endless possibilities for designers and concept development teams, giving them the ability to produce parts and concept models using a printer that sits neatly on their desk.

We live in a time where instant gratification underpins every aspect of our lives – from buy now pay later to having TV on demand and shopping at the click of a button.  Although this 3D printing is, in many ways, a sign of the times, it has the potential to change the very fabric of our lives.

3D printing takes virtual designs from CAD and transform them into thin, virtual, horizontal cross-sections, building up layers until the model is complete.  The Economist described it as technology which “may have an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did” because it makes it as cheap to create one item as it does thousands.

So it’s hugely disruptive for traditional manufacturing, but it’s the technology’s potential as a means to solve more complex problems that has really captured the world’s imagination.  Hip replacements, for tissue engineering and the creation of chemical compounds all at the touch of a button.  Other suggested applications have included archaeology and forensics, providing a new way to reconstruct damaged artefacts and evidence.

We don’t have to imagine this world – academics and designers are working on making this possible as we speak and the applications for 3D printing are clearly limitless.   These printers now cost as little as £1500 (compared to £20,000 three to five years ago) – I think it’s time we all started learning CAD.

We all accept that technology is developing at an exponential rate and we’re certainly all feeling the benefits.  But while we’ve been busying ourselves with the boundless array of interactive games and social media – a significant gap has appeared under our noses. We don’t know how to create the amazing functionality that we can’t live without.

We’ve become so enamoured with the aesthetics of technology (thanks Apple) and the things it can do for us, that we’ve overlooked the importance of technological know-how – the very understanding of how things work and how to create them.  That’s why the brainchild of a group of tech guys from the University of Cambridge is just so impressive.

They’ve launched an initiative that looks set to create a new generation of inspired computer programmers.  Their idea is the raspberry pi – a cost effective way to put computers into the hands of kids.   The raspberry pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can type documents, play games, create spreadsheets and view HD video and all for the cost of $25.

Their idea was born out of the need to get past the IT skills deficit that followed the dot-com bubble bursting, increasingly poor IT education and the development of new games consoles which took away the home-programming capability of earlier models like the Commodore 64. The result is a small piece of kit which gives kids the tools to get started with programming.  They’re not evangelists claiming to have the problem wrapped up – instead they’ve found a fun and effective way to make computers accessible and inspirational for any child, anywhere in the world. Seems to me that the real technological revolution is still to come.

Design trends over the last few years have always pointed to the minimalist look, even in our own home. We like space to look uncluttered, clean and spacious.

This all appears to be the case apart from in our bedrooms.  Figures revealed for two major retail chains suggest that king size beds now for the first time out-sell double beds. There has been a steady decline of 4ft 6 beds in favour of over 5ft, although rooms sizes have not changed very much over the same time.

 This could indicate a social change of how we use this space.  Do we need more room for sleeping, are we becoming taller and heavier, or was the double bed always to small?

More and more people see the bedroom as a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  People now frequently use laptops while in bed and watch TV, suggesting the bedroom is now much more than just a place of sleep.

 

Posted by Jenny Durbridge, our guest blogger this week

Dolphins – highly intelligent and complex marine mammals. Beautiful, graceful creatures that have even been known to save the lives of humans. It is apparent however, that dolphins are not loved by all. Under government instructions for “pest control” and in order to preserve the oceans fish levels for human consumption, thousands of dolphins are rounded up and slaughtered in Japan EVERY YEAR. In a small, relatively unknown fishing village in Japan called Taiji, a massacre takes place for six months of every year. Entire schools of dolphins are rounded up and trapped inside a cove. Those that are not chosen by hundreds of visiting dolphin trainers, for sea life centres and aquariums around the world, are brutally killed by the fishermen. For as long as the hunters are rewarded for show quality dolphins by worldwide aquariums and dolphinariums this senseless slaughter will continue. Live dolphins captured in a Taiji dolphin drive hunt recently sold for $154,000 per dolphin.

Ric O’Barry, the original trainer of the dolphins used in the TV series Flipper has devoted the last 40 years of his life to dolphin protection and campaigns to have dolphins released from captivity. With Ric at the helm, savejapandolphins.org and The Earth Island Institute are tirelessly campaigning to stop this mindless killing.

For more information and to support the campaign please visit http://www.savejapandolphins.org In the UK, efforts to protests are being co-ordinated by http://www.campaign-whale.org/campaigns/japan-dolphins