A while back I took the piss out of the Segways – because they’re solved a problem that wasn’t a problem – at about $50,000 a go… well now someone’s made a little one – which is (at a stroke) transformed into something pretty neat – on account of it being 3D printed, arduino driven and smart-phone controlled.
Still not sure what you’d use it for mind, but that’s not the point. What it’s for, is the act of creating it in the first place… and it’s contribution to the culture. That whole recombinant thing. If I had to make a prediction off the back of this it would be for some sort of standardised smart-phone to physical device interface. Like a jQuery for robotics.
The vague drive (I think, again) is towards making hardware problems, software problems… because software is fast. The evolutionary natural-selection loop with software has far shorter iterations. This is part of the reason why the robotics revolution is still (30 years later) not really here yet. And that’s where sensors come in – when limbs become self-aware, and can micro-adjust accordingly, then a whole bunch of hardware problems become software problems.
That’s kindof what this is about I think. That’s what the 3D printed wheels are about – weirdly shaped plastic parts is now a software problem.