Open Hardware Comes to NYC

Open Hardware Summit:

On September 15th, leaders, community members, and fans of open source hardware  will convene at the New York Hall of Science for the second annual Open Hardware Summit. The one day event will not only promote the open source hardware cause to the general public, it will provide a forum for artist, hackers, and business people to share their experiences in making open source hardware a viable economic alternative to traditional hardware.  Unlike distributing open source software over the internet, manufacturing hardware or other physical objects still costs a lot of money.

What is Open Source Hardware?

According to wikipedia:

Open source hardware (OSHW) consists of physical artifacts of technology designed and offered in the same manner as free and open source software (FOSS). Open source hardware is part of the open source culture movement and applies a like concept to a variety of components. The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned. Hardware design (i.e. mechanical drawings, schematicsbill of materialsPCB layout data, HDL source code and integrated circuit layout data) in addition to the software that drives the hardware are all released with the FOSS approach.

In short, open source hardware devices are easy to hack, alter, fix, and duplicate because the all the design documents, assembly instructions, and controlling software is released to the public along side the object.  Alternatively, closed sourced hardware is everything other object that we buy.  For example, when you buy a TV it doesn’t come along with CAD files for manufacturing the plastic parts, instructions on how to assemble the circuitry, or the software source code to control all of the TV’s components.

Open Hardware Projects:

Here are a few popular open hardware projects that will be participating in the Open Hardware Summit:

Chumby – An internet connected mini-computer that can be used to control external devices or display media.

Arduino – Microcontroller platform for controlling simple electronics. Extremely popular among students and hobbyists.

Eyewriter – A low-cost devices that allows users with limited or no mobilility to control a computer cursor by moving their eyes. Also used to produce large-scale digital graffiti.

Lasersaur – An attempt at a low-cost, easy to operate, reliable laser cutter.

Bug Labs – Development kits for easily integrating the internet and cloud data into existing devices. Bug Labs recently announced a partnership with Ford to integrate their hardware into upcoming vehicle launches.

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