Dug Campbell

Replicate (And Destroy Me) Scotty

It’s good to see yet another prediction that has its origins in the creative output of popular science fiction emerge into reality. Kind of.

Teleportation is one of those things that you just can’t imagine will ever be possible – at least when it comes to living things – even if you had Montgomery Scott in your corner. We’ve all seen what can go wrong after all.

Yet it turns out that by combining 3D printing and encryption, researchers are now proving that a type of ‘teleportation’ is possible. A project in Germany named Scotty has shown that by using two MakerBot Replicators, modified with a camera, a milling machine and encryption hardware for secure communication, an object can be ‘sent’ from one location to another.

Just to be clear, that’s not to say that the recipient gets the same item in molecular terms. Instead he or she will receive a replicated version. The really interesting thing though is that at exactly the same time, the original gets destroyed by the milling machine in stages. The milling machine carries out this destruction in layers which are photographed and then sent securely to, and replicated by, the second machine. Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe this as a ‘duplication plus destruction’ model.

Either way, there’s definitely potential applications to be developed here. For example, if you’re not allowed to copy an item because of intellectual property protection but a seller wants to sell itto a buyer on the other side of the world (and it is made of the appropriate material), this removes the transit to delivery time almost entirely.

The end product might still be quite rough. But combine this functionality with a Bitcoin payment that automatically transfers as soon as the milling of the original item starts – now you’ve got a very interesting proposition.

Still, I’d wait for a little while yet. I don’t recommend you squeeze into that replicator yourself in order to cut down those air fare costs

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