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Hardware Can Be Open, Too - page 4

Open Ideas to Open Source: Hacking Hardware

  • September 20, 2007
  • By Matt Hartley

Successful open source projects in all their forms must provide an ecosystem that is not only true to the original vision of the project, but also can provide a venue to keep the developers with the ideas working to create the next great concept. This means a sustainable business model. And when considering the long tail nature of many open source concepts, it only makes sense to ensure that you are working to create an open source project that empowers the success of its creation through the long term value of a long tail marketplace.

What if Bug Labs has nailed it? What if they grow to such an extent that money is no object, and the needed technology was readily available in the near future? That is, what if we see the birth of an open source hardware 'ecosystem'? Consider this possible scenario:

  • New user logs into the hardware ecosystem prototype building website.
  • They upload schematics using their own template so that their computers can relay the needed data off to the robotic factory for assembly.
  • During the upload process, needed materials for a given prototype have been charged to the user's credit card or account, expediting the building process.
  • Once the on-demand prototype creation is complete, it would be up to the end user to beta test the product as the on-demand factory is not setup for such assistance.
  • Via RSS newsfeed, the uploaded schematics are published for all to view and comment on.

Obviously, the entire thing sounds far fetched and the logistical challenge(s) presented are enormous. But think about this: the same thing could be said about the ecosystem I like to call the World Wide Web.

How could something designed for communication provide the stomping grounds for electronic commerce, virtual software applications and of course, a sounding board for new ideas yet to be discovered? Yes, the Web provides users with a means of collaboration. And when there is unrestricted collaboration, nearly anything is possible. Bug Labs, the open source hardware movement and other yet-to-be discovered frontiers have the same opportunity here.

This article originally appeared on Datamation, a Jupiter Online Media site.

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