Two seemingly unrelated pieces of news that showed up next to each other on my clogged RSS reader and made me jump:
Sears is now selling a woodcarving CompuCarge machine for under $2000 that can carve out 3D objects from "most soft materials including wood, plastics (polycarbonate or cast acrylic) and certain types of high density foam" (via Make).
To quote myself: "These objects may be small and crude, but if you are excited about the revolutionary power of desktop publishing today, wait till you wake up to the realities of desktop manufacturing."
Just wait till the device will work with models uploaded to Sketch Up.
Sears has also launched a showroom in Second Life. "Sears' early prototype store is meant as a showcase of basic features of what might be possible in using virtual worlds to transform consumer experiences. The initial store allows consumers to experiment with changing the color of the cabinets and countertops in a virtual kitchen, explore 3-D versions of various home theater set-ups and learn how to organize their garage by virtually customizing storage accessories." (press release)
Here's one of my favorite images that I always pull out at presentations on in-game branding: a player-made Sears store in The Sims 2 (tons of detailed images here).