Each year Gartner, a leading IT research firm, posts a list of technologies they feel that will dramatically affect business over the next decade. This year's list includes Web2.0, Service-Oriented Architecture and Virtual Worlds, which are all expected to have near-term impact. Meanwhile, RFID, Surface Computing, Augmented Reality, Mobile Robots and our favorite topic, 3D Printing will have impacts in five to ten years time.
The long-term items surely sound like science fiction, but we know better. It's pretty clear to us that 3D printing is a reality today, as there are multiple options one can consider, ranging from inexpensive home kits to large-scale mini-manufacturing plants - although they are a teensy bit more expensive. It's all about price and quality. Over time we see both of these factors gradually improving, and at some point the price will make sense for the quality in the minds of the general public.