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jfish Present and Future Visions

While we’re firmly focused on the aims for the ‘present’, the future potential of the project is the most exciting.

Convergence of technologies

The project in it’s current state is only possible because of the simultaneous availability of certain technologies coinciding with the maturation of particular types of social organisation. The ‘chronological convergence’ of these has produced a habitat of technology that is the single most significant enabler of the project.

Our greater access to the internet has dramatically lowered the cost of communication across the globe, allowing collaboration and contribution unrestricted by geography. The constantly expanding availability of the internet continuously improves access, allowing more people to both contribute to and benefit from the project. The reach of the internet means economic, educational and political barriers are constantly being removed.

Parallel to this, the ever falling cost of personal computing is putting this power in the hands of a significant portion of the world’s population. The maturation of the free software and open source movements is providing powerful and extensible tools for use on these machines, including programming and circuit design tools, essential to the design of complex electronic devices.

Ongoing advances in semiconductor technology and the availability of cheap, reliable electronic components, allow almost any motivated individual on the planet to build complex, functional devices, incredibly cheaply.

Leveraging the collaboration of geographically-diverse people with similar goals, a culture of sharing and opennness, and ready access to reliable, cheap and powerful tools, will enable more equitable access to essential medical technology. We hope that the work done today will lay a foundation for extending and improving these technologies as further advances happen.

The coming revolution of personal fabrication

One such coming advance, is the rise of ‘personal fabrication’ – the use of small, cheap, computer-controlled ‘factories’ to produce functional devices in low volume runs. Developed at MIT, several functional fablabs are already in the field, being used in Norway, India, Ghana, South Africa and Costa Rica.

...It is a group of off-the-shelf, industrial-grade fabrication and electronics tools, wrapped in open source software and programs written by researchers at the Center for Bits and Atoms./ / FabLabs give users around the world the ability to locally conceptualize, design, develop, fabricate and test almost anything. The engineering capability for design and fabrication at micron length and microsecond time scales opens up numerous possibilities for innovative solutions to common problems. Since local communities themselves foster this innovation, it can lead to sustainable solutions.

Currently a working Fablab costs US$20,000 to put together. While this is currently out of reach for most communities, the combination of falling costs and associated economic advantages of having access to a lab, will inevitably bring their arrival. (It is worth noting that at the beginning of the desktop publishing revolution in 1984, an Apple LaserWriter laser printer cost US$5,000, equiavlent to US$10,000 today in 2005.)

It is only a matter of time that personal fabrication will be readily accessible for many people in the world, limited only by access to the knowledge and intellectual property required for constructing a device.

The jfish project hopes to provide the foundation and framework for unrestricted access to design, construction and usage methodologies of common anaesthetic monitors, enabling their production.

Future Applications

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