A respected connectivity expert, research fellow at Autodesk, and chairman of MAYA Design, Mickey McManus is passionate about the connected world and humanizing technology.

He is deep into his current research project “Primordial,” which explores the connected world and the impact on people and design when three inevitable technology trends converge: the Internet of Things, digital manufacturing and machine learning. He believes these three trends will generate a new set of design and business paradigms. Those who design for a connected future will have the market advantage. Those who continue designing for disconnected things will design their way into irrelevance. The challenge designers face is how to surf these trends, know what to do about them, and identify how designing “things” will change. 

In his search for how to shape a world of infinite connectivity, McManus is identifying changes that are occurring now in materials, tools and supply chain. To be robust in tomorrow’s market, companies will have to be dynamic, flexible, and agile. Take the $2 billion Barbie doll industry, for example. McManus would stop shipping Barbie dolls and start printing them where they are sold. Taking into account costs, delays and other shipping challenges, he suggests instead of sending 13,000 dolls, ship the polymer powder to 3D print 250,000 dolls. It’s easier, cheaper, and makes many more Barbies than shipping the final product.

He believes the industrial revolution reached its maximum capacity in the 20th century and we will maximize connectivity in the 21st. In the last century, manufacturers designed and marketed products to a maximum number of consumers. In this century, through connectivity, manufacturers will produce less volume but more custom products, loaded with capabilities that allow the manufacturer to fine-tune the next product with data collected from the product itself. McManus is so enthusiastic about the prospect of products “talking” back to the producer that he declares the factory will become the “social network of the future.”

“I feel so blessed to be on this journey with others to explore this exciting world of connectivity,” said McManus during a recent AMT interview. “It’s a new ecosystem bounding with opportunity.”

Hear Mickey McManus and other world-class speakers inspire and inform at The MFG Meeting, co-hosted by AMT and National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA). The meeting will be held March 2 - 5, at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, Palm Desert, California.