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“The Holy Grail” of manufacturing could be here within this century, says futurist Michio Kaku

The future could see all money
digitised, purchases made by literally blinking your eyes, and anything able to
be manufactured, molecule by molecule, according to futurist and bestselling
author Michio Kaku.

Dr Kaku, who holds the Henry Semat Chair
and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York
said that the current trends involving mass customisation and 3D printing would

“I think there’ll be a mix
between mass production, customised production, and small-scale production on
3D printers,” he told Manufacturers’ Monthly, speaking about the
near-term future.

Additive manufacturing would
continue to rapidly gain in popularity, as others such as research firm Gartner have
, but would not replace mass production for cheap items any time

“Mass production is still very
efficient – one size that fits all,” he said. “But for customised work, for
customised things, then we can start to use 3D printers.”

As computing power and chips
became cheaper and cheaper, computers would be seen in more and more places.

The next step after the Google
Glass and similar eyewear would be contact lenses containing a microchip and
able to present images and information to the wearer.

“You’ll simply blink and you’ll
be in the Holodeck,” he said, using one of several analogies borrowed from Star
Trek to illustrate his predictions.

“You will blink and be able to
create any imaginary scenario you want. If you’re an architect you can walk
through the building you’re designing. Move objects around and have them
immediately printed out on a 3D printer.”

Wallpaper would be replaced one
day with flexible screens, able to present whatever the owner wished to see.

Further off, but probably
within the 21st Century, the “Holy Grail of nanotechnology”, the nanobot (or
molecular assembler, or Replicator) would come about.

“A Replicator allows you to
create anything you want, simply by asking for it… And we know it’s possible
because Mother Nature does it.

“Mother Nature can take a bunch
of hamburger and french fries and turn it into a baby in nine months. That is
amazing. In nine months, turn a bunch of french fries into a baby.

“And how does nature do it?
Nature does it with a molecular assembler called a ribosome.”

Nanotechnology was currently
primitive, noted the famous science communicator, with carbon nanotubes and
graphene not finding their way into mainstream products.

However, there were reasons to
be hopeful that improvements in slicing, dicing and reassembling molecules
could eventually be a reality.

Nanomedicine was promising, and
“just on the horizon”, and a Star Trek-style Replicator able to manufacture
anything was an eventual possibility.

“Perhaps late in this century
nanotechnology will create a nanobot by which we’ll be able to order not just
mass produced parts, not just 3D printed parts, but anything you want,” he

Other predictions included
unprecedented information available to consumers, and businesses trying to
counter this through means such as data mining, targeted marketing and

“In the future, when you walk
into the store, your contact lens will scan everything and tell you who has the
cheapest, who has the best product,” he said.

“You will know exactly what
things really cost.”

Kaku, the keynote speaker
at the second day of SolidWorks 2015
, explained to the audience
that his predictions were based on extensive interviews with elite researchers
in various fields.

For his Physics of The
book (published in 2012), for example, he interviewed 300
leading scientists

Kaku has written multiple
titles that have made The New York Times bestseller list, most recently 2014’s The Future of The Mind. He
has also a regular guest on US TV and radio news programs and has appeared in many

Manufacturers’ Monthly is attending SolidWorks
World 2015 as a guest of Dassault Systemes.

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