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Posted on February 1, 2012 by Jennifer Pointer

Anyone who grew up dreaming of having a Jetson's food machine or Jean Luc's replicator will love this story. 

 

I've been exploring virtual worlds like Second Life and InWorldz lately, and one of the basics of building and creating in those worlds is learning to work with "objects," which are usually things like houses, clothing or avatar parts.  These objects can be transferred between the virtual worlds by downloading and uploading these objects as XHTML files, much the same way data from websites are often backed-up and/or moved from one site to another.

 

These objects are visually 3D, which means that you can rotate them to see all sides, and that they have the appearance of being "real" when displayed using an appropriate viewer for each respective virtual world. 

 

Well, a site called "The Pirate Bay" made big news this week when it announced it was adding a new download category called "Physibles."  The Pirate Bay is a website that allows users to download computer programs and other media for free.  The site is based in Sweden, and many of the downloads most likely violate copyright laws in the United States and other countries, which is why I'm not linking to them here, but you can read the report on just about any Tech News site listed HERE in the Googe Search.

 

Apparently, these techie-trend watchers believe that the future of illegal downloads is in 3D printing.

 

What?! 

 

That's right - they believe that basically, you will actually be able to download physical objects, and they want some of that action.  Well, I do, too.  Not the illegal part, but wouldn't it be fun to be able to buy a book online, and then download the physical book instead of just a file for your iPad (which I don't have)?  Or speaking of that, maybe I could just download an entire iPad.

 

Apparently, this is not as crazy as it sounds.  Mashable has a post today, You'll Download Physical Objects Sooner than you think, thanks to Kids Like These:

 

"...Riley and Vernon are eighth graders. Along with a small cohort of classmates at Discovery Charter School in the Bay Area, they’re already getting pretty deep into the world of 3D design and printing. After Riley developed a strong interest and aptitude for 3D printing a couple of years ago, a company called 3D Systems donated a 3D printer worth several hundred dollars for him to use at school.

The class of some dozen students is one a very small number of middle school labs beginning to delve into the emerging industry. The group’s work has been featured in a Popular Science blog post, and they have already produced items including dice, jewelry and replacement parts for the printer. Their progress reflects a tangible future for the medium that exists outside of exclusive laboratories and research facilities....(more)"

 

Wow!  Those kids are cute.  And smart.  And they'll be running the world when I'm too old to do anything about it, so I'm glad that they seem bent on using their powers for good. 

 

Now, where's my Earl Grey (two lumps, please)?

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