The Still Untapped Potential of Open Source Hardware

February 22, 2011

Ever since I first came across kickstarter, I've been periodically checking it out for interesting open source hardware (OSHW) projects. I've found a lot of great projects, but yesterday one project in particular caught my eye.

It wasn't the flashiest pitch, and the product focuses on a need I don't currently have, but the story behind the product was something I hadn't seen before on the site. The product was something new and unique, but it heavily leveraged a different project's open source designs. And this is something I would like to see a lot more of in the open source hardware community.

There plenty of examples of this iterative design process (the wide variety of Arduino clones is probably the best example), but for the most part, despite its openness, most open source hardware is designed from the ground up by a single designer.

For the full potential of open source hardware to be unlocked it will take more people following the lead of Mitch's LCD Temp Shield by modify existing projects and quickly feeding the designs back into the community for testing. The speed that open source hardware products have the potential to be modified products can be created, tested, and revised is something that proprietary hardware will never be able to match.

There are still 10 days left in Mitch's kickstarter pitch if you like to support his project. Details can be found at his LCD Temp Shield For Arduino page on kickstarter.

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