The Open Hardware Summit

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The Open Hardware Summit

The 2nd annual Open Hardware Summit opened this morning. Over 350 inventors, kit makers, reprappers, and Open Culture enthusiasts gathered at the New York Hall of Science in Queens to celebrate this emerging phenomenon. What makes hardware “Open Hardware,” you ask? That was hashed out last year, resulting in the Open Hardware Definition. If you had an Arduino-powered excitement meter and brought it to this year’s Summit, the needle would be pegged in the red zone; there’s a high level of enthusiasm and camaraderie in the room.

The Arduino Team kicking things off this morning

The morning talks featured:

  • A keynote address by the (almost) entire Arduino team, who indicated that they will be making a big announcement on Saturday at World Maker Faire.
  • I love Kate Hartman’s work, of which she presented some examples, including a jacket that enables you to hug glaciers.
  • Eric Wilhelm of Instructables gave the audience an awesome survey of innovation in K’Nex-based weaponry by “13 year old boys of all ages and genders.”
  • Bunnie Huang from Chumby Industries spoke of a future of heirloom laptops, and how the slow-down of Moore’s law is a good thing for individual hardware hackers. For example, creating an open source tablet is crazy; by the time you’ve finished, Moore’s law would have made it obsolete. When the Moore’s Law treadmill stops, we’ll see a new attitude to consuming electronics and a rise of repair culture.

The big picture talks were followed by a Legal track:

  • Myriam Ayass presented details of CERN’s Open Hardware license, adapted from the work done at the 1st Summit. Great to see big labs jumping on board!
  • Alison Powell from the London School of Economics told us of the work of OHANDA, an effort to support the “4 Freedoms” and documentation effort by introducing OKEYs.
  • Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge reported on his efforts to educate our elected officials about the “Right Thing To Do” with new technologies such as 3D printing and open hardware culture.

The afternoon sessions are focused on social change (Open Hardware as an agent of…), community organizing, scaling fabrication capability, followed by talks on business models, breakout sessions, and demos.

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Shawn Wallace

Shawn Wallace is a MAKE contributor, artist, programmer, and editor living in Providence, R.I. He designs open hardware kits at Modern Device and organized the Fab Academy at the Providence Fab Lab. He makes iPhone synthesizers with the Fluxama collective and is a member of the SMT Computing Society.

View more articles by Shawn Wallace


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