Oct. 8, 2012 at 2:15 PM ET
To get your hands on the hottest digital gadget in the future, all you may need to do is hit Ctrl-P.
The technique takes advantage of recent advances in 3-D printing technology to create transparent plastics, which in turn allow fabrication of pipes that guide light from point to point, akin to optical fiber.
In one example, seen in the video below, 3-D-printed pipes guide light from a mobile projector to the eyes of a plastic character. Different sounds and movements change the light routed to the eyes.
Chess aficionados might appreciate chess pieces that display content from a table top surface, such as position and suggested moves.
Other possibilities today include sensors that respond to a press of a button or twist of a knob. The technology could even be used to create artistic light bulbs.
For now you still need to add some parts — a light source, or a sensor, or a processor — but in the future, Disney Research envisions "a world where a device with active components is created as a single object, rather than a case enclosing circuit boards and individually assembled parts."
– via The Verge