Smartphone-Enabled Replicators Are 3-5 Years Away, Caltech Professor Says

merbs writes: In just a few years, we could see the mass proliferation of DIY, smartphone-enabled replicators. At least, Caltech electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri and his team of researchers thinks so. They’ve developed a very tiny, very powerful 3D imager that can easily fit in a mobile device, successfully tested its prowess, and published the high-res results (PDF) in the journal Optics. Hajimiri claims the imager may soon allow consumers to snap a photo of just about anything, and then, with a good enough 3D printer, use it to create a real-life replica “accurate to within microns of the original object.”