November was another big month for open hardware certifications; with close to 73 new projects certified from a variety of domains. The certification website and API have been up for a while and there is a growing awareness about just how easy it is to certify your project. While there are a number of new projects being certified this month there were also a number of tried and true maker favorites now applying to formally certify their projects.
If you live in the western United States or Australia you probably spent a few months of this year dreading going outdoors due to the extreme wildfires and their associated air pollution. Similarly, during the early days of the pandemic more than one media outlet commented on how the pandemic induced economic contraction had radically improved outdoor air quality in certain areas. Air quality and ventilation were big topics in 2020, and consequently the open source hardware community jumped at the opportunity to provide solutions for environmental monitoring. In November OSHWA certified three distinct sensors that can be used to measure various aspects of air quality. The first sensor comes from Sparkfun, who certified a collection of environmental sensors and breakout boards including the Sparkfun Air Quality Sensor – SGP30 (QWIIC). This particular sensor module can be used to detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are the gaseous compounds that evaporate out of compounds like solvents, glues, and paints. Another group, HiMinds of Sweden certified an environmental sensor that includes, temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, carbon dioxide, VOCs, and sound. You can read more about this project in the developer’s medium post. Finally a Russian developer, Andray Lamchenko, certified a simple temperature and humidity sensor with an integrated e-ink display.
What I like about these trio of projects is that they provide the broader open hardware community with reference designs to build and re-mix subsequent environmental sensors tailor-made to address a particular application. It really is a maker’s dream in the API, you can search by “air quality” and see a handful of projects addressing different aspects of a complex problem.
One of the more interesting projects certified in November was the N+ Bike Shoe Platform by Biem Etc Design; this project is a custom clip-in bike shoe design, engineered to play well with additive manufacturing. I love cycling and hiking but unfortunately there are no clip-in bike shoes that are really built for hiking, let alone long distance walking. The N+ attempts to solve this problem and includes an incredibly beautiful report on the design. To my knowledge this is the first fashion technology project we’ve had certified but I hope it becomes a more common occurrence.
Our next featured project from November is an oldie but a goodie. Prusa, the king of the European rep-rap scene just certified the Original Prusa MINI 3D printer. Prusa has been a big proponent of open source software and hardware for years and they just made one of their designs officially certified open source hardware. If you have Prusa Mini or are looking for a commercial 3D printer with true Open Hardware bona fides look no further; and feel free to build, buy, or modify a Prusa Mini by checking out their source repository.
The maker of our final project, Luxonis, is hands down my favorite new company of 2020. I was introduced to the Luxonis CTO, Brandon Giles, earlier in the year by a mutual friend who thought I might be interested in the joint Kickstarter Brandon was planning with the OpenCV Foundation.
My day job is working as the developer advocate at Open Robotics, the organization that maintains the Robot Operating System (ROS) open source project. Brandon and I had multiple discussions about embedded computer vision products and how they can be used by roboticists for both autonomous navigation and robotic perception as well what it means to be “open source.”
Luxonis is working to open up the world of depth cameras, embedded cameras, and their associated processing capabilities, and they are doing it the open source way with the blessing of the OpenCV team! Luxonis recently certified their RGB camera module that is used by their embedded computer vision products with more products to follow. These products are built from the ground up to help computer vision and robotics professionals build embedded vision products; and the designs are meant as a starting point for your custom vision application development. I was so impressed with what the Luxonis and OpenCV teams were working on I invited them to talk at ROSWorld (it is worth a watch!).
I reached out to Luxonis to comment on the use use case for their products and what motivated them to make them open hardware,
The use-cases are so varied that we don’t yet have a grasp on them all. And this is the precise reason we decided to open up the platform. The use-cases we’ve seen so far span visual assistance for the visually impaired, aerial and subsea drones, e-scooter and micromobility, cargo/transport/autonomous vehicles, sports filming/monitoring, smart agriculture, safety systems (HSE), security (gun detectors/active-shooter), and satellite sensors. So the core embedded performant spatial AI and CV is what is used across these, but they all look incredibly different in terms of formfactor, operating system (or none at all), code base (open or closed) so we open sourced everything we could as MIT, so it’s permissive and easy to use on any system – whether it is open or closed source. To enable folks who know all these things about industries we don’t know, to leverage this spatial AI/CV power.
Unfortunately, there are too many projects being certified right now to cover them all; and like in previous months certain vendors are certifying a large percentage of their existing product. For example, this month SparkFun alone certified close to three dozen of their products. If you have a project to certify you can find everything you need on the certification website. While you are there you can also search through all of the recently certified projects using the API.