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.
At company headquarters in Shenzhen, I talked to Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group – the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor.
Huawei says its market priority is China, followed by Europe and Japan. But - when it comes to smartphones - it’s not ruling out the U.S. market despite security concerns and the recent back and forth about Huawei’s commitment there.
"Gradually, step by step, more and more people will trust Huawei," says Yu. "I think with a brand, the most important thing is trust."
He hopes to build that trust with products like the $500 Ascend P2 which is billed as the “world’s fastest 4G LTE smartphone.”
Watch the video above to see a walk-through of Huawei's flagship smartphones and to hear Yu's sales pitch to Huawei-wary American consumers.
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.
The manhunt is ongoing.
Officers in Boston are going door to door, searching for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing. He is at large and believed to be armed and dangerous. The first suspect is dead. Residents in the area have been urged to stay indoors.
This dramatic turn of events took place shortly after the FBI released to the public additional photos and videos of the suspects at the site of the blasts that killed three people and wounded 180 people.
What role did social media play in tracking down the suspects? To what degree was the FBI investigation crowdsourced? And what have we learned about the suspects from their own digital footprints on various social media channels?
Earlier this week on News Stream, I talked to our regular contributor and NewYorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson about the role technology and social media has played - from disaster communications to offering help to the victims to communing during a time of senseless tragedy.
But given events in the last few hours, it's a conversation that begs to be revisited.
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.
Want to be a magazine publisher? There's an app for that.
Popular news aggregator Flipboard has launched a new version with a "curation" feature that allows anyone to run their own magazine inside the app.
Sounds cool. But why would an average joe with a smartphone want to do that?
"A lot of people have a lot to say. There is a desire to curate and organize content," says Flipboard co-creator and CEO Mike McCue.
"They don't want to create a blog, it's too technical. This gives them a very easy way to do that."
McCue says there have been "hundreds of thousands" of magazines created so far by Flipboard readers around the world on topics ranging from profesional equestrian sport to the latest research in cancer genetics.
It's a development that's prompted one media commentator to call it a major threat to established publishers akin to "a giant iceberg lurking in the path of the media."
But McCue insists he wants high quality journalism and content to thrive online, adding that "the future has never been brighter for publishers."
The Flipboard chief says the company works with over a thousand different publishers to help them reach a new generation of readers on mobile devices to "take their media operations into a new realm."
But could the smartphone-wielding news junkie supplant the publisher in both news creation and spinning money from the business?
"We are thinking about how to let individuals, the people who are curating magazines, to be able to generate revenue," admits McCue.
"But the first priority is to enable publishers whose content can get curated inside these magazines to get revenues. That's priority one, and then we will look at how individual readers can participate in that economic scenario."
Traditional media execs, you have been warned.
Yahoo was already around two years old by the time app developer Nick D'Aloisio was born. Now the Internet giant is paying the teen millions of dollars to acquire his mobile start-up, Summly.
Neither side has released details of the deal. But we do know the 17-year-old will go to work for Yahoo... while still doing homework.
D'Aloisio tells News Stream, "I’ll be focusing on other projects on the side as well as finishing my A-level exams. But I’m really going to be focusing on integrating summarization technology at the heart of Yahoo’s mobile solution. These summaries that we provide make it a lot easier for users to consume content and information when they’re on their mobile screen. So it’s really exciting to be working with Yahoo and Marissa Mayer on this."
But this deal is notable for much more than D'Aloisio's age. It tells us that Yahoo's Marissa Mayer is interested in making Yahoo relevant for the mobile space.
A string of CEOs before her have tried and failed to figure out what Yahoo does. Mayer has made many internal changes since taking the helm. But her broader vision for the company still remains to be seen.