I missed the Open Hardware Summit but by all accounts Bunnie Huang’s talk, “Why the Best Days of Open Hardware are Yet to Come” was an inspiring vision of a future where the little guy can compete with the tech giants.
Currently, open hardware is a niche industry. In this post, I highlight the trends that have caused the hardware industry to favor large, closed businesses at the expense of small or individual innovators. However, looking 20-30 years into the future, I see a fundamental shift in trends that can tilt the balance of power to favor innovation over scale.
The scene is set for the open hardware ecosystem to blossom over the next couple of decades, with some hard work and a bit of luck. The inevitable slowdown of Moore’s Law may spell trouble for today’s technology giants, but it also creates an opportunity for the fledgling open hardware movement to grow roots and be the start of something potentially very big. In order to seize this opportunity, today’s open hardware pioneers will need to set the stage by creating a culture of permissive standards and customs that can scale into the future.