If you were asked to mention the different things you could store in the cloud, what would you say? The obvious answers might include digital photos, music, email folders, address books and so on, if you were thinking of personal use. Business users might broaden the field to other kinds of files, including spreadsheet files, database files, software applications themselves, company documents of all kinds, and files for CAD applications, for instance – the files that hold information on two-dimensional and three-dimensional designs.
Now you can go a step beyond even 3D design files to hold data in the cloud that you can immediately restitute as a real object. 3D printing makes it possible to scan, store, transfer and print a solid object from one place to another, whether it’s a coffee mug or a car engine part. Although it’s still early days and 3D printers to make metal items directly are still expensive, $1,000 or less gets you a working 3D printer from eBay. If that still sounds like a large outlay, consider the time and money saved by being able to print out solid replacement articles by yourself. You may never again need to worry about breaking your favorite coffee mug, as long as you’ve scanned it and uploaded the 3D print data to the cloud as an insurance policy.
Cloud Providers Get In On the 3D Act
If you can do it, so can they. The age of the 3D cloud service provider is coming and in its vanguard, applications like ‘KeyMe’. The concept is simple. People lose their keys. If they have digital copies and places to print them out however, they need never call another locksmith again. KeyMe offers that service. It stores your key in the cloud and lets you print out your new, solid key in kiosks located in 7-Eleven supermarkets (just in New York City, for the moment).
Internet of Printable Things
Yes, you read it here first. After the Internet of Things with universal web connectivity for everything under the sun, welcome to the latest cyber-concept: the Internet of Printable Things. As fast as people can scan them and load them into the cloud, we may expect huge cyber warehouses of articles to be put in place. Cyber shoppers will be able to wander down cyber aisles in these cyber warehouses and download whatever is available. Naturally, these 3D scans can also be equipped with Internet connectivity, so that when you print them out, you can immediately connect them to the net (that’s right, check up on your coffee mug, anytime, anywhere).
With the massive potential for making and storing printable objects in the cloud, expect the rise of the cyber junkyard as well. In addition to all the stale data that currently exists, there will now also be billions of printable articles, past their sell-by date and gathering cyber dust. Maybe a little self-discipline will be the answer. If everybody is willing to track 3D cloud inventory, and replace or eliminate obsolete items, we could bring clarity and organization back. But, be honest – when was the last time you cleaned out the hard drive on your PC, let alone your cloud storage space?