An interesting article in The New York Times this weekend about the resurgence of hardware prototyping in the Bay Area:
But there are signs here that hardware is becoming the new software.
It is an expansion of a trend that began a few years ago with the Flip videophone, a sleeper hit, and has recently accelerated with Nest, the smart thermostat; Lytro, a camera that refocuses a photo after it is taken; and the Pebble smartwatch, a wristwatch that can interact with a smartphone.
Although the hardware is not manufactured in Silicon Valley, it is being conceived, designed, prototyped and financed here, usually by small start-ups.
What has changed?
Each of those steps is speeding up, which cuts the costs and lowers the risks of developing new things.
It’s not that software is any less important in Silicon Valley. One reason for the rise of hardware is that it is now so tightly integrated with software. Apple has taught a generation of product designers that an electronic device isn’t much without specially designed software that makes it a joy to use.
Instead, any designer now has the ability to quickly experiment with new product designs using low-cost 3-D printers. These printers can churn out objects to make prototypes quickly — a fork, wall hooks, mugs, a luggage clasp — by printing thousands of layers of wafer-thin slices of plastics, ceramics or other materials. Products can be made quickly in contract assembly plants overseas, usually in China.
All of this has given designers and engineers a fast-forward button advancing this technological flip-flop…
Read the rest of the article here.
(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)