Open Hardware refers to physical products created through using openly available designs and data. It presents a low cost opportunity for people to develop their own bespoke products, often by working off designs that are developed and shared by fellow makers around the world and made available for free.
It is a really exciting and creative time for the movement and every day brings a new idea; from the guy who built a radio controlled lawnmower using an open hardware kit, to the team who are creating a brain scanner that people can 3D print at home.
The Arduino is a core component in lots of projects with a social aim, such as energy and environmental projects like Safecast, which saw people building their own radiation detectors. There have also been some notable experiments with building open medical devices using Arduino.
It is a really exciting and creative time for the movement and every day brings a new idea
Learning about open hardware has also been made much more accessible recently through well-priced and abundant starter-kits such as the Raspberry Pi – which aim to get kids to code and has shipped more than two million units globally.
People working on Open Source Hardware are creating new organisations such as the Open Source Hardware Association and the Arduino open community platform, to open new research avenues and coordinate projects. There is even a community with the ambition to create a Global Village, by ‘creating and sharing blueprints of key components required to create the essential machines which enable sustainable civilization to flourish!’
If you are looking for more inspiration for what can be made using open source hardware and software, check out when the next Maker Faire is happening near you - events where the community come together and share their ideas and prototypes.
Photo Credit: Gabriella Levine on Flickr