Future Trends in Information Systems
This chapter gives an overview of the trends in information systems. As you read, think about which of these trends may affect you the most. Are you excited for or apprehensive of any of these trends?
One of the most amazing innovations to be developed recently is the 3-D printer. A 3-D printer allows you to print virtually any 3-D object based on a model of that object designed on a computer. 3-D printers work by creating layer upon layer of the model using malleable materials, such as different types of glass, metals, or even wax.
3-D printing is quite useful for prototyping the designs of products to determine their feasibility and marketability. 3-D printing has also been used to create working prosthetic legs and an ear that can hear beyond the range of normal hearing. The US military now uses 3-D printed parts on aircraft such as the F-18.
Here are more amazing productions from 3D printers.
- Buildings. Researchers at MIT in 2017 unveiled a 3D printing robot that can construct a building. It has a large arm and small arm. The large arm moves around the perimeter of the building while the small arm sprays a variety of materials including concrete and insulation. Total time to construct a dome-shaped building is just 14 hours.
- Musical Instruments. Flutes, fiddles, and acoustic guitars are being produced with 3D printing using both metal and plastic.
- Medical Models. Medical models are being used to help doctors train in the areas of orthopedics, transplant surgery, and oncology. Using a 3D printed brain model, surgeons were able to save a patient from a cerebral aneurysm.
- Clothing. How would you like clothes that fit perfectly? Special software is used to measure a person, then 3D printing produces the clothing to the exact measurements. The result is well-fitting clothes that consume less raw materials. Initially the challenge was to find materials that would not break.
3-D printing is one of many technologies embraced by the "maker" movement. Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, puts it this way:
In a nutshell, the term "Maker" refers to a new category of builders who are using open-source methods and the latest technology to bring manufacturing out of its traditional factory context, and into the realm of the personal desktop computer. Until recently, the ability to manufacture was reserved for those who owned factories. What's happened over the last five years is that we've brought the Web's democratizing power to manufacturing. Today, you can manufacture with the push of a button.