The term “disruptive technology” was first used in 1995 by Clayton M. Christensen of the Harvard Business School. It describes a new technology which disrupts established markets by creating new markets and sometimes displacing existing ones. For example, the disruptive effect of using digital electronics (instead of analogue) in mobile phones was to lead to dramatic price reductions in equipment and create a consumer market for what had otherwise been an expensive business user product.
Keen to demonstrate the benefit of disruptive technologies, in 2014 Alternative-Photonics delivered a project for Sheffield University’s “Festival of the Mind” which demonstrated digital disruptive technology in computers and manufacturing. The “Disruptive Technology Telescope” combined 3D printing with the Raspberry Pi computer and camera to build a telescope within the capabilities of makers and citizen scientists.
The project was a great success. Described by the university’s engagement team as “one of the two showcase projects of the festival”, the “Disruptive Technology Telescope” attracted considerable press attention and went on to be successfully crowd funded as “PiKon’, a home construction kit.