Mac|Life imagines Apple products of the future

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Mac|Life magazine recently approached me and several other people (Brian Lam, Veronica Belmont, Michael Brook, Mark McClusky) to envision a future product from Apple. Mac|Life rendered them beautifully, and the products the other people came up with are really cool.

My product was a rapid-prototyping system called the iMake (above).

iMake is a desktop manufacturing system based on the RepRap (reprap.org), an open-source 3D rapid prototyping technology. Apple led the way in the desktop publishing revolution, and now it's leading the way in the desktop manufacturing revolution. With iMake, you can make your own small products at home, such as Bluetooth headsets, iPods with unique form factors, wristwatches, eyeglasses, door knobs, and more.



To create a product, you visit the iTunes Store to choose from among tens of thousands of product designs--prices range from free to $9.99--purchasing one just as you would a song, video, or app. The 3D data is sent to the iMake, which builds the parts, layer by layer, out of high-quality plastic. The iMake will also make the circuit boards. Then, all you do is snap the pieces together! After purchasing a 3D model from the iTunes Store, it takes about 15 minutes to print a 3D part.

New Apple Products--as Imagined by the Elite Gadget Press

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  1. I’m afraid that the iRead would only be a plausible future Apple product if Steve Jobs were to die in the meantime.

    Look at this picture.

    See the consumer accessible expansion slot poking crudely through the smooth, fingerprint-magnet perfection(complete with a glimpse of the cheap stamped steel the slot is made of); just begging some dirty consumer to expand the device in ways that Jobs never intended? Steve would scream at you until you cried for suggesting something like that.

  2. Thanks, Mark. All practical, do-able and I want!

    Except for Michael Brook’s iDouchebag goggles. Those suck.

  3. And where are we getting this high quality plastic in the future? What about cheap crappy plastic that has been salvaged from the mines of our garbage dumbs of yore?

  4. wait a minute, Apple giving users freedom?
    what?

    I can’t even browse my own Mp3’s, or install my own software on their current flagship product. They are highly protective of their designs so it seems highly unlikely that they would lead the way in letting users alter the shape of their products.

    The Apple iMake would download Apple authorised designs from iTunes, and you would not be able to edit them.
    A license to create iMake templates would be costly.

    The iGoo cartridges themselves would be expensive and subject to many court battles over cut-price suppliers circumventing their DRM.

    MS would bring their version out 4 years later. It would be beyond awful.

    1. Can’t browse your own mp3z? [CITATION NEEDED]

      I can certainly see Future Apple requiring everything to go through iTMS before being “printed” on an iMake, I also think it wouldn’t be long before some sort of open source software hack would be available to use the iMake without iTMS, just like how there is for the iPods (Songbird, gtkPod, etc.), and even jail broken iPhones.

      3d printers have the potential to truly being a disruptive technology, but it’s going to be a long while before they move beyond printing crappy plastic shot glasses.

      1. the 3d printer was the technology described by George Orwell in the book 1984, which was responsible for the collapse of the social class structure.

    2. “MS would bring their version out 4 years later. It would be beyond awful.”

      And it still wouldn’t work with CSS5.

  5. Nothing against Mark and his submission, but the Mac|Life staff really needs some fresh ideas themselves. I think they run the “What will Apple do Next?!?!?” cover story on a quarterly basis.

  6. I agree with Angstrom, the 3D printer idea is mainly interesting for the types of DRM that it will have, and the proprietary interface to the iMake application, reminiscent of IBM in the 60’s.

    More likely by 2015 they’ll have an implantable computer that displays a glowing Apple logo on your back and requires you to use iTunes to go to the bathroom.

  7. The caption for this one should say, “You can make the plastic cases for various gadgets at home.” Because it sure as heck can’t make ICs or capacitors or any of that other stuff that comprises electronic circuitry. Carbon resistors, maybe.

  8. Its true that you can’t use non mac stuff to do syncs and what not, but frankly, I don’t see that as a problem SO LONG as the support does not get cut whimsically. After all, you have already agreed to pay an additional $300-500 just for that mac label. Its not like they hold a monopoly on the market. You COULD be using Windows, and the Zune…

    That being said, once you buy into the iMarket, they kinda have you by the balls. As long as anyone buying into the market knows that, its fine, I guess.

  9. A ipod, surgically implanted into your skull, that prevents you from being able to hear any music that you haven’t bought through itunes.

  10. The rapid prototyper would be fun to have but really doesn’t feel like Apple’s style to me. To my knowledge the company has never produced a printer or a scanner, so a peripheral like that is a pretty big stretch.

    Methinks Mark imagined a device he’d like to have and threw an Apple logo on it instead of thinking of a product that Apple would be remotely likely to create.

  11. I agree, it will probably be riddled by DRM and Microsoft will eventually bring out its own solution which will be horrible.

    However the Open source crowd will have it years before and wonder what the big deal is. Essentially that’s what we’re seeing now. Most “domestic” rapic prototyping machines are owned by proponents of open software.

  12. Brainspore:

    Of course an iMake is a big stretch. They asked me to come up with a product *I’d* ike to see from Apple. not one I expected them the make.

    “To my knowledge the company has never produced a printer or a scanner”

    See:

    Apple Scanner: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Scanner
    Apple Printer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaserWriter_IINTX
    Apple Digital Camera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_QuickTake

    Also: DataModem 2400, Color Plotter, External disks, tape drives, etc

    1. Dang, I knew that printer comment was probably going to be incorrect.

      Well good luck Mark, though I personally would have asked for the iRocketship.

  13. I don’t care if Apple starts cranking out Home Neuro-Uploading Kits, I’ll never give that snake-oil salesman Steve Jobs a *penny.* An Apple nanoforge would cost three times what any other nanoforge costs, would produce pretty but extremely shoddy materials, and would require only Apple-approved CHON–and I would just *love* to see the approval process template engineers would have to endure to get their designs accepted for the iForge Store. The software to run it would be fairly easy to use and pretty, sure–but also incredibly limited compared to even freeware nanoforge apps, riddled with bugs, and so overloaded with copy-protection AI sentries that you wouldn’t even be able to produce a Granny Smith apple without paying the goddamned company a royalty to maintain Steve Jobs’ cryo-preserved head.

  14. Look, all this pie-in-the-sky dreaming is just dandy, but when am I gonna get my external keyboard for my iPhone?

  15. Wow, so much Apple and Jobs hate… I love my Mac, it runs perfectly, never crashes, and has yet to get a cold. My Super Fancy Dell was half the price and 10 million times the headache. Peace of mind does have a price, and I gladly paid every cent.

    As for the imagined products, I would by the iRead in a heartbeat. The Kindle is a ridiculous design. The Courier looks nice but small, and we’ll all lose the stylus. That imagined iRead is gorgeous; it retains the feel of a book (which I actually value, archaically feeble minded though that may make me) while giving all the benefits of an e-book reader. Page Jobs, get them working on it. I want one.

  16. The 3D printer is the future of making. Reprap and Makerbot are the Gutenberg presses of the 3D pritning revolution.

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