Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ordinary Inventing

Rather than advanced technological development and education being elite activities bounded by scarce space in the classrooms and labs, they can become much more widely accessible and locally integrated, limited only by the most renewable of raw materials: ideas.
- Neil Gershenfeld (2009), Professor MIT.

On a cold February morning, ten years from today, you may be able to program your car via e-mail, to turn on and begin defrosting and heating at exactly 7:55 a.m. (five minutes should be enough to get you out the door for work on time). Your coat could be warming in the heating closet you also programmed with the click of a single button. And your children could have already been fed warm oatmeal and a cup of blueberries by a robotic breakfast-maker. This Jetsons-like existence really is about to become ubiquitous. And inventing is about to become part of ordinary life.
The Fab Lab, originally from MIT, now has locations around the planet where ordinary people have access to technology specifically designed to make ideas and inventions a reality. Neil Gershenfeld, overall director of these Fab Labs, believes personal Fab Labs will be available so every household can make it's own inventions on site within the next twenty years.

Below are my top three questions about how Fab Labs will change our future:

  1. How would you change your physical world, if you could make almost anything you think up by using a personal Fab Lab?
  2. How will commerce change if you can design a dress at home and have it made within an hour by your personal Fab Lab?
  3. How will education change, if larger Fab Labs become centers for learning and innovating?

Hmm...the possibilities.


  1. As a professor teaching in rehabilitation sciences including the neuropsychological / neurocognitive content, I find your blog fascinating. You bring up many questions that speak to the rapidly evolving world of the information age. I too enjoyed your latest questions in you last blog on instruments for we will still need to keep the mind, body, and spirit active. As one who practices in areas of sensory integration, I think of the Romanian baby studies and the physical and emotional atrophy that occurs in absence of sensation/ touch and movement. Somehow our worlds will need to continue to meet such needs or our very physiology will change!
    Prayers to you

  2. Thanks for joining the conversation and for your goodwill. Have a great day.