(New Scientist) The factories of the future will look very different from those today, with not a person in sight. Instead, workers will log into robot-assisted manufacturing "cells" to make what they want from the comfort of their own home. You won't even need to be employed by the factory: people on online social networks will be able to log in and set laser cutters and 3D printers to work, bashing out gadgets to order.
That's the vision of Goran Putnik, an engineer at the University of Minho in Guimarães, Portugal. The "cloud manufacturing" notion he is pioneering aims to extend telecommuting to those with jobs in factories. It will also take the "maker" movement, in which people band together to tinker with electronics, and make it professional.