With hardware start-ups on the increase, countless gadgets funded via Kickstarter and a resurgence of interest in electronics as a hobby, it looks as though hardware is set become the new Web.
From the first public radio broadcast in 1910 to the home computer revolution of the 1980s, electronics served as the most visible face of technology in the 20th century. When for almost 100 years everyday lives were being transformed by a stream of new appliances, intrepid early adopters could get a slice of the action if they could solder, and electronics empires were being born in garages.
With the arrival of the PC and then the Web we saw a shift in focus, and while software requires computers and the Internet is built upon networking and communications hardware, these took a backseat position and applications and online services garnered more attention. All the hottest start-ups were online and many budding engineers took to software development rather than soldering.
As we move further into the 21st century it appears that the balance may be redressed, with attention shifting back towards hardware — or perhaps products that span both physical and online worlds. What follows is a brief look at some of the enablers, drivers and indicators of this shift.
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