14 August 2008

Fab Labs ~ MIT's Neil Gershenfeld on DIY Kits

In a nice Forbes article, author Andy Greenberg writes about MIT Professor Neil Gershenfeld's Fab Life making Labs...
The Fab Lab (short for fabrication laboratory) is a package of tools designed to make essentially any object. The kits can include a laser cutter, computer-controlled wood router and a miniature mill for drilling circuit boards, all for around $50,000, including open-source software, batteries and micro-controllers. Those appliances and materials, Gershenfeld says, are all anyone needs to build whatever he or she can imagine. [...] Gershenfeld's project is focused on bringing an early version of that replicator to the masses: He's shipped 26 Fab Labs around the world since 2002. Shepherds in Norway have used a Fab Lab to create radio-frequency ID tags for tracking wandering sheep. The South African government is working with Sun and Cisco on building simple Internet-connected computers that hook up to televisions and cost just $10 each. The latest Fab Lab was shipped to Afghanistan in June, where it will fashion customized prosthetic limbs. Gershenfeld says he receives a lab request every day. "The Fab Labs tap into this wellspring of interest from ordinary people in getting the means to create their own technology," says Gershenfeld
Beyond the core Fab Lab concept are the new Fab Fund, a venture investment wing trying to prove a "micro venture capital" business model, and a Fab Academy, an educational wing.

No comments: