Using examples from my work and that of others, I'l discuss the alternatives to mass production offered by digital technologies for the making of high-tech devices. The increasing accessibility of digital fabrication, microcontrollers, and the internet make it ever-more possible for individual hobbyists, designers, and craftsmen to produce electronic devices. To explore the possibilities and challenges of this practice, I've created a variety of products combined custom electronic circuit with fabricated enclosures: a radio, speakers, mouse, and, most recently, a cellphone. By making these products and working with others to make their own versions, I've started to derive some general insights about the implications of digital technology for artisanal production.
David A. Mellis is a second-year PhD student in Leah Buechley's group, High-Low Tech, at the MIT Media Lab. Before coming to the Media Lab, Mellis earned a master's in interaction design at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (Italy) and taught at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (Denmark). He is one of the creators of Arduino, an open-source hardware and software platform for electronic prototyping.