3D printing has slowly been on the rise for the past few years, but it has yet to have a major mainstream break though. It largely still only appeals to a niche audience of makers, and that's because it's intimidating. Machines require calibration and tinkering when they're first set up, and sometimes it takes days of tweaking before you can get a successful first print. Installing the correct software and adjusting the object files can be difficult, too. Sure, for hobbyists and printing enthusiasts, tweaking is part of the fun, but for beginners it's just too complicated.
DIY - News, Features, and Slideshows
Three college students from Griffith University in Australia have created an autonomous vehicle using just a smartphone and a toy Power Wheels car. This self-driving car navigates its way around by plotting a GPS course on the smartphone. Meanwhile, it uses a connected camera sensor to see where the road lanes are, and to spot any other hazards on the traffic-laden streets. This one smartphone system also controls all of the car's steering and acceleration.
Not only are consumer-grade 3D printers proving to be useful, increasingly affordable, and easy to find, but they're the vanguard of an emerging technology that will eventually become as ubiquitous as inkjet printers are today.