3D printers have been around for a while, used in industry for rapid prototyping.
But the promise and peril of 3D printing really came to the fore this week, after that shocking announcement from the Texas-based "Defense Distributed" which claimed it has successfully fired the world's first gun made by a 3D printer.
Thanks to cheaper 3D printer models, the technology is available to anyone with around a thousand dollars to spare.
Here's how it works. Instead of using ink like regular inkjet printers, 3D printers use materials like plastic. They take a digital image that you can create using modeling software on a computer, and then print it out building up layer upon layer of material to create complex solid objects.
Toys, car parts, even mini human organs have been 3D printed by manufacturers and scientists who've been using the technique for decades.
How far can the technology go? What will 3D printers be able to do for us 10 years from now? And is it an advance that needs to be regulated today?
In the video clip above, News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson of the NewYorker.com weighs in on the 3D printing debate.
You've heard of Siri. You may be familiar with Google Now.
But what about MindMeld?
The app, built by Expect Labs, bills itself as "a smarter way to have conversations on your iPad."
It hasn't been released yet, but tech giants Samsung, Intel and Telefonica have just joined on as the startup's latest inventors.
This is how it works. When you talk, MindMeld listens so it can search and bring up information that's relevant to your discussion.
There's something deeply fascinating and creepy about the technology that tracks everything you say. Why would I want to use it? And what do I give up for using it and similar tracking technologies like Google Glass?
CNN contributor Nicholas Thompson of the NewYorker.com says by using such hyper-smart technology, we are trading in our privacy in return for utility. There's always resistance at first, but eventually we grow to accept it.
What's your take?
Wait, the iTunes Store is 10 years old?
It's true, the digital media store was launched a decade ago this week - on April 28, 2003.
These days, it sells TV shows, movies, apps and books. But back then, it only sold music and marked a sea change for the recording industry.
iTunes became the largest music retailer on the planet by 2010. According to NPD, iTunes is currently responsible for 63% of all digital music sales - putting it well ahead of rivals like Amazon and Google.
The iTunes music store may still be the leader of the digital music arena but according to Nilay Patel, Managing Editor of The Verge, the cracks are starting to show.
The business model has hardly changed over ten years and a number of music streaming and subscription options are out there, grabbing the attention of a younger demographic.
After a decade of success, can Apple continue its dominance in digital music?
With competition coming from Pandora, Spotify and others that stream music online, Patel says, "iTunes itself needs to change to become a more Internet-centric service."
Apple is starting to move in that direction. But there's no time to lose.
You've seen the report by now. Research firm IDC says global shipments of PCs fell 14% last quarter - nearly twice as bad as expected.
The report says consumers are putting their money on mobile devices instead, adding that the sector is at "a critical crossroads."
OK. PC sales are declining, but is the PC really going away?
Regular News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson, editor of the NewYorker.com, is a defender of this technology in decline.
He points out that PC sales will still outnumber tablet sales in the next two years and that, paradoxically, one of the reasons why PC sales are declining is that they simply last longer.
"In 5 years, when we fully enter the mobile era, there will be many of us with desktops," says Thompson.
Call me a PC-hugger. I plan to be one of them.
Inevitably, I met a booth babe with a t-shirt that read, “Call Me Maybe.”
I’m at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona - home of fine food, football and phones with the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year.
Why am I here? Our world is changing fast. We are at a critical inflection point as desktop computing shifts to mobile, and smart mobile devices become more and more ubiquitous. We are ushering in a new digital era where everyone will be on the move and always connected.
The change is happening so fast, blink and you may miss it. It’s already challenging the authority of established computing giants like Microsoft and pre-smartphone era stalwarts like Nokia.
Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE are chipping away at the authority of BlackBerry. Open-source operating systems are emerging as players in the race for mobile OS supremacy. Messaging apps like WhatsApp are stealing revenues away from network providers.
So I’m here to determine what’s happening and try to anticipate what’s next before reality slams me in the face.
So, here goes. These are the three top emerging mobile trends I’ve picked up here in Barcelona:
Most top tech brand showcase their latest products at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Of course, one big name is missing. Apple never attends shows like this.
And it feels like other companies are starting to follow suit.
The Verge's David Pierce says it feels like Samsung is starting to pull away. He notes that the Galaxy S4 will come out in two weeks in New York, though it did announce the Galaxy Note 8 in Barcelona. HTC unveiled its flagship phone last week. Google executives are in attendance, but the company does not have booth and announced its new Chromebook last week. And Pierce feels Nokia fell flat, failing to announce anything big.
So is the Mobile World Congress going the way of Las Vegas's Consumer Electronics Show?
Pierce says, ""There's a lot here but it seems like a show like this, and even CES, they're becoming traditional trade shows again where it's industry people coming to getting to know each other and make deals. There's a putting green upstairs just for making deals. It seems like, in a sense of big consumer show where we see the really exciting stuff, it's starting to slow or at least lull."
And there are many movers-and-shakers at MWC. Check out our Day 3 highlights below:
Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley
PayPal President David Marcus
BlackBerry's Vivek Bhardwaj, the man behind BB10 OS
Plus, a fun look at how FC Barcelona reaches its fans through apps!
As you might imagine, mobile phones are front and center at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. We've already highlighted Nokia's big push with cheaper phones.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop also hinted the company is looking to launch a tablet. He told Kristie Lu Stout, "We're considering what's the right way to enter, if we were to enter. How do we differentiate in that market. How do we as confidently stand up with a tablet as we do with the Lumia smartphones. We want to make sure we understand all of that."
Three of the biggest new products at the show this year are tablets. They are the latest offerings from Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Sony.
HP is back in the tablet market with the 7-inch Slate 7. But CNNMoney's Adrian Covert says, "(It) is not a premium-grade tablet, nor a remarkably cheap device."
Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 takes aim at Apple's iPad Mini. Covert calls the Galaxy Note 8 "fast and speedy." But he notes that while 8 inches is small for a tablet, it's huge for a phone. It is still unclear if the phone-enabled version will be sold in the U.S.
Covert says Sony's Xperia Tablet Z could be the best tablet at the Mobile World Congress. And at 10.1 inches, it is also one of the biggest.
Among our other Day 2 highlights:
Discussing the rise of Chinese smartphones
Nvidia's Project SHIELD and its new vision for gaming on the go
Sitting down with Greg Sullivan, Microsoft's Senior Marketing Manager
News Stream is at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. It's the mobile industry's biggest event of the year.
In the coming days, we will speak to the biggest names in the business, as we look for the software and gadgets that will dominate our lives in the years ahead.
On Day 1, we talked to Google's Matias Duarte. He's the Director of Android User Experience. And his description of the latest OS is both awesome and slightly scary.
Duarte says, "We've been rolling out amazing, powerful new features that are almost like a superpower. Like Google now with Jellybean. Your phone is actually your companion. It knows what you want to search for before you do and can offer that information."
It's hard to imagine that the second-best quarterly profit ever made by a U.S. company wasn't good enough for investors.
But Apple isn't an ordinary company. And signs that the tech giant's unbelievable growth might be slowing is enough for investors to flee the stock. FULL POST