Recently read Makers: The New Industrial Revolution which gives a fascinating insight into the emerging maker trend of inventive people designing, prototyping and making products themselves. The completed designs can then be digitally transmitted to manufacturers for commercial production.
This development is enabled by the increased availability and affordability of 3-D design software, 3-D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and electronic microcontrollers such as Arduino. There is also ever-increasing easy access to and availability of know-how and ideas sharing networks on the Internet.
Websites such as quirky.com allow anyone see their design ideas turned into products!