A Paradigm Shift

Remember the last time you shuffled through the newspapers to look for new restaurants? Or the last time you used a collapsable city map to look for directions? Or scoured your wallet to pay that extra five bucks for your coffee? Yeah, we don’t remember either.

Times have changed – changed to the point that we don’t know what collapsable city maps are anymore. They’ve become mere antiquities. Digital disruptions are very real, and they are constantly evolving. Life seems empty without them and businesses need to stay proactive to keep up, otherwise, things might head South.

Three such disruptors are additive manufacturing or 3D printing, Virtual Reality and Drones.

3D Printing:

Technology has transcended the ordinary and has become a surreal mix of science and futurism. Sure enough, today’s technology is tomorrow’s obsolete design but for now, we are going gaga over this era’s incomparable invention – 3D Printers. Understanding the theory behind 3D printing or ‘additive manufacturing’ is a five-finger-exercise; one must simply type a few digital codes and voila, the printer spits out a three-dimensional object. From drone parts to human organs and everything else in between, the printer can reproduce any three-dimensional object known to man, including food!

Medicine, automation, aerospace and fashion are four of the most successful industries in the country that have discovered the potential of this technology. Additive manufacturing is primarily used in the production of automotive parts such as doors, trunks and car panels that are later assembled together.

Unlike the west, startups operating in the 3D printing space function in two areas – sale of 3D printers and 3D printing as a service. On average, 3D printers are available from Rs. 30,000 and can go up to Rs. 10,00,000 lakhs – depending on if you want to print – a toothpick or a house. Last year, Global 3D Labs launched Pramaan One, ‘India’s largest 3D printer’, which measures a metre on all sides. It can print, and by that we mean, spit out whole furniture, functional robots and other large components at the push of a button.

On one hand, complex surgeries have been made easier but on the other, 3D printers have not yet found their end-consumer usage in India. The problem with 3D printing marketing in India is not the lack of capital investment, but the lack of ‘end product availability’ to consumers, and not just intermediaries. If that application can be derived, there will be healthy growth in investment.

But it looks like investment is burgeoning with IT giants like Hewlett Packard Inc bringing 3D printing technology to India about two years after it launched globally. HP is working with companies like Johnson & Johnson to print 3D parts that can be inserted in the human body—like an artificial hip or a dental implant, and this could potentially revolutionise the consumption of 3D printing technology in the country! Feels like we are stuck in an episode of Black Mirror, right?

Virtual Reality:

You are standing inside a hot air balloon, and it’s going to pop any minute now. Or, imagine standing on a bridge that is 500-metres above a water body, swaying like a pendulum. How do you cross it? Even if you know that you are only standing on a plank with your VR glasses on, you will feel like you are a part of the game, both physically and mentally.

Apart from Entertainment, the healthcare industry has been making prodigious use of technology. The virtual models help both experienced and new surgeons to choose the safest and most efficient way to locate tumours, place surgical incisions and practice difficult procedures that buy them time. But unfortunately for India, the healthcare industry hasn’t caught up with this new technology yet.

But most interestingly, beyond movies and games, this technology is coming in handy for those employed in the Handicrafts industry. Recently, The Hindu reported that Poompuhar, the retail arm of Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation, has plans to develop a virtual reality tool at the Chennai airport. Essentially, it would only be an empty room in the airport lounge. But donning a pair of VR glasses, you will see the most beautiful craft hub come to life. You can even virtually examine the products before buying them!

Few years down the line, grocery stores will have empty aisles, and libraries will have desolate racks. This might paint a depressing picture, but all tech specialists seem to believe that Virtual reality is our future.


Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones as they are popularly called, are unmanned aircraft that have assumed a cardinal position in not just military, but also in maritime, marketing, real estate, insurance, utilities, mining, meteorology, education, and much more. Marketing? Yeah, with drones, telemarketers can waltz into your houses, drop those encyclopedic tomes, and make you run like hit-sprayed roaches if you don’t pay. That’s an exaggeration but we are inching closer to that.

Sixteen years ago, when UAVs were first introduced to the CIA, they were used for targeted killing in Afghanistan. But since then, their applications have expanded to surveillance, delivery, photography and crowd-control.

Despite stringent laws in place, drones fitted with cameras are also being widely used by television channels to cover large gatherings and other political events. The devices are frequently used for video coverage of marriages and in temple festivals. In the weddings, drones are used by videographers to capture visuals of guests arriving and then to pan the camera to other points such as the wedding hall and dais.

Next time there’s a drone buzzing at a wedding banquet, we have two words for you – Run Away. It could have the most embarrassing footage of you trying to fit two pani puris in your mouth, all without authorization.