The gadgetry on display was so complex and so diverse–spanning everything from smart trash cans to airborne wind turbines–that even hardcore techies marveled at how far this world has already come.
At the conference, WIRED sat down with Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab and one of the event’s planners, to discuss this phenomenon of convergence, where bits from the digital realm are fusing with atoms here in the physical world (see gallery above). Experimentation is spreading, he says, and it won’t stop at gadgets. For Ito, the next great engineering platform will be living matter itself.
The proliferation of new hardware, Ito says, is driven in part by changes in the global supply chain. Over the past year, the industrial supply chain companies that serve giant mass-market hardware makers like Apple and Motorola–helping to generate iPhone and iPads and Android devices–are now starting to serve startups as well. Manufacturing and distribution are becoming ever-more automated and modularized, he says, and startups can plug into these economies of scale.
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