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Open-source hardware takes steps toward gadget mainstream… IDG article -

Could the same philosophy — the free and public dissemination of underlying code and specs, with multiple developers from disparate sources contributing to the design — work for tech gadgets as well? Will we one day commonly use smartphones, netbooks or other gadgets that have been developed under an open-source model, maybe even preferring them over proprietary products like the iPhone? After all, it’s possible today to design a device — including its electrical and mechanical architecture — on a personal computer with CAD and schematic design software, order nearly all the components needed for it online, and then process the manufacturing of a prototype through a low-cost supplier. So the idea of organizing an open-source project online to build a device isn’t far-fetched, nor is it one that requires millions in start-up funding. But can such gadgets succeed against those developed by established commercial manufacturers with deep pockets? Mark Driver, a Gartner analyst who specializes in open source, thinks that open-source gadgets have the best chance in markets where the technology has matured to the point that it is commonplace.

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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. Carnes says:

    I think enthusiasts who can understand the technical differences between the commercial product and the Open Source/Design version will seek the better of the two. Or if they are similar, choose the vender they prefer. I think it helps that people in the know aren’t as persuaded by Marketing gibberish.

    The only big hurdle i can see is the IP issue. You can copyright the designs but can you prevent someone from building the design and selling the device? Ok, that didn’t sound evil enough.. can you prevent a company from using a community design to mass build and sell the device? If the answer is no, then makers who live on the income their kits bring will be less inclined to make the designs available. Right now everyone is very friendly and i hope it stays that way.

    Chumby has an HDK license you must agree to before you can use the open design. Their license says you can modify a chumby, but you cannot make one. “you agree not to … make, have made, import, or sell chumby Devices”. This type of agreement is a subset of OpenDesign and not exactly the flag for everyone to rally around. I’m not sure what the best answer is?

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