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Open-source hardware is slowly making the rounds at some of the more traditional news and editorial sources, here’s a pretty good overview from the Economist called “Open sesame” – some of the usual suspects are included (Chumby, Buglabs, Neuros). MAKE and Adafruit were not included along with a few others, but we have a complete list of open source hardware folks in the related links below…

THE idea of “open source” software is familiar to many computer users. Enthusiasts get together on the internet to create a new program, and as well as giving it away, they also make available its source code–the software’s underlying blueprint. This allows other people to make additions and improvements, and those are made available, in turn, to anyone who is interested. You do not have to be a programmer to benefit from the open-source model: many people use the Linux operating system or Firefox web-browser, for example, both of which have been developed in this way.

Now the same approach is being applied to hardware, albeit in a modified form.

And here’s a great quote…

All of which suggests that open-source hardware will really start to make a difference when big hardware makers and consumer-electronics firms begin to embrace the idea. “It’s a new day for consumer electronics,” says Chumby’s Mr Tomlin. “The community makes suggestions and shares hacks. And we don’t try to sue our innovators. We make heroes of them.”

Related:
Make 562-2

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. consumer says:

    This is ridiculus:

    Hardware can’t be copied by pressing a mouse button.
    Hardware may not work because you are not able to make it work.
    Hardware can burn down your house.
    Who is responsible?

    If you can hack hardware, which is very complex most of the time, you’re not a consumer.

    Call it a new day for tinkerers and hobbyists. Uh, don’t, because building stuff others made up has been around before you got the idea.

  2. Collin Cunningham says:

    @consumer – In your rush to destroy hope here you seemed to have missed the point – consumers already have hacked hardware, from hardcore PC-modding to circuitbending instruments. These new companies are trying to encourage that. Instead of clamping down, they’re opening up, listening to users and sharing knowledge.

    This is a good thing – smile!

  3. ian says:

    …in the future we may HAVE to build our own hardware to take full advantage of our rights (e.g. broadcast flag evil-bit overrule of consumer fair use/time shifting)…

    Actually, it’s not just in the future. Where’s my wifi ipod that shares music with other users around me? Ah, I see. Technically possible, but risky from a legal point of view. in the US.

    Open hardware is good because we need a parallel hardware ecology when everything is infested with HDCP, trusted user chips, DRM, CSS, etc. And it is a societal imperative because it’s the only stuff that’ll survive the inevitable digital dark age.

    Thanks, I’ll be here all week.