Much as eBay transformed distribution, [DIY manufacturers are] redefining design and manufacture. The infrastructure is there: Yahoo Groups make it easier for people to trade ideas and learn quickly; free or cheap computer-aided-design (CAD) programs allow users to cobble together blueprints; and inexpensive manufacturing in China allows the idea to go from file to factory. There are even websites like Alibaba.com that will help these small-timers find Chinese factories eager for their work, meaning that the amateur nation has its own Match.com.
The article profiles a former IT executive who is designing and manufacturing a combination digital camera/MP3 player... without a manufacturing infrastructure.
The DIY trend is not lost on established players; instead of being threatened by it, some plan to capitalize on it. Microsoft is working to develop "phidgets" -- small electronic components that can be programmed via Microsoft's Visual Studio Express. Using phidgets, individuals could develop their own RFID tagging or other electronic system.