The job of kicking off this year’s South By Southwest Interactive conference fell firmly in the hands of none other than MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis — and really a show like this couldn’t ask for a better, more enthusiastic evangelist for emerging technologies. And certainly the fact that Pettis’ company has firm ties to the event doesn’t hurt matters either. Pettis spent much of his talk espousing the “next industrial revolution,” a phenomenon in which he sees desktop 3D printing playing a pivotal role — MakerBot’s 3D printing specifically, if he has his way.
The company took a big step in that direction with the announcement of the Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner. Still in its early prototype stages, the device is an attempt to do for 3D scanning what the Replicator and its ilk have done for printing — i.e. democratize the process in such a way that makes it affordable and user-friendly enough to make it an appealing prospect for hobbyists and later consumers. It’s hard to say just how realistic that dream is at this point, of course — the device is set to go up for order in the fall, and Pettis is the first to admit that the company still has a long way to go before the Digitizer is consumer-ready. But if anyone’s going to convince us that such a dream is close to coming true, it’s the MakerBot co-founder. Click through after the break to hear him discuss the device.