One of the tragedies of mass produced items is that sometimes it’s more convenient or even cheaper to buy a new unit than to have your existing one repaired. Sometimes there are no official service outlets near where you live. Perhaps your gadget is quite old so replacement parts are hard to come by. And my favorite: that tiny little thing that snapped off/broke/went missing? Yeah, that’s definitely more expensive than the product itself. I’m looking at you, PlayStation lens. Fortunately, MIT Media Lab alumni John Kestner has a new concept that could make it easier for us to hold on to our purchases for longer.
Pictured above is the Rev – ->Table, the first product from Kestner’s company Supermechanical. It has a solid oak surface and laser-cut cold-rolled steel legs. I’m sure those are great materials, but I’m more interested in the QR Code etched on its surface. You see, you can scan that code using a smartphone to gain access to the table’s CAD file, or its digital blueprint. Armed with that information, you can now make replacement parts or even modded parts, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be compatible with the table. Hell, I bet it’s even possible to replicate the whole thing if you like.
You can order the Rev – ->Table from Supermechanical for $667 (USD). I don’t need or want such an expensive table, but again, it’s the QR code concept that I’m stoked about. Imagine if everything we bought had a similar link to its schematic. Headphones broken? Well maybe you can still fix it, just look at the schematic. Want to mod your store-bought PC? Look at the schematic to get started.
A variety of third-party parts manufacturers would pop up as well, making replaceable parts more available and cheaper, so even if you can’t make the part yourself you can just order it. Combine this with 3D printers, and we’ll be ordering and receiving parts instantly. While we’re dreaming, why don’t we incorporate the manual and links to the support department on the QR code as well? That way if you lose the paper manual – and you will – you’ll still have access to the information in a digital format.
Then again, many manufacturers may not be so keen to reveal the blueprints and schematics to their products. Plus there’s the great inevitable – QR codes on torrent sites (Build.Your.Own.Xbox.720.Torrent, or DIYPioneerKuroQRCodebyEZTV.torrent). I guess it’s up to the folks at iFixit to make guides for every conceivable product.
[via Cool Hunting]