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Most physical products today require a vast amount of computing power when designed and manufactured, along processes commonly referred to as Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM). This has made mass production well optimized and resource efficient, especially when identical products are concerned.

However, when the final product leaves the factory and the umbilical cord, be that the debug JTAG interface or a final laser defect scanner, the product is totally disconnected from its origins.

Even when I buy a relatively complex product like a mobile phone, it is unlikely that the manufacturer would get any digital feedback of how, when and why I use their product. When it is time for me to buy a new phone, there is no way for the old manufacturer to influence my buying decision – the old phone is long forgotten and the game is on for competitors to get me to switch brand.

All this changes when we introduce a unique spime for each thing the factory spews out. The spime is the first phase in the manufacturer’s digital platform before anything is materialized, containing CAD/CAM data and algorithms created by the designers and engineers. Some of the manufacturing data is stored in the physical product, in RFID tags or local memory, but vast majority remains in the spime farm.

When the customer gets the product, there will be various ways to allow interaction between the physical incarnation and the spime. Of course the customer must be able to request that the spime is executed only locally, but this would severely restrict the product’s capabilities. Communication can be periodic RFID read, Bluetooth through a mobile phone, WiFi, Ethernet – anything that is cheap and easy to facilitate by the customer. The cheaper the product, the bigger is the business logic change and opportunity – see e.g. our Spime Sock example.

Spimes must be portable, secure, tradeable and evolutionary – Flickr or Facebook profiles might be the digital possessions of yours of today, but in near future you’ll have a spime farm for most of your things, physical too. Ready to reprint your broken, dear 2015 Aalto vase in 2020?


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