We owe a lot of the latest advancements of IT to the open source movement. There’s no question now that without open source software, we would be so much backwards, and various computer-based enhancements would not be as widely spread & used in our daily lives as today.
Because open source software are free from various limitations (legal, secrecy, etc), it can be used in more places and more situation than the proprietary ones.
So what’s next ? Actually, or ideally, this should be the predecessor to the open source software movement, but I guess, as always, better late than never — open source hardware. Let’s welcome it together.
There are not too many of it at the moment (especially when compared to its software-based ones), but as the concept spreads, expect more to show up.
Personally, I was first attracted to Open Hardware because of the OpenBIOS project. BIOS is the small chip which boots up your computer. But back in the DOS era, you’ll also need it to access various hardware in your computer.
With proprietary BIOS, it was quite unpleasant. Some BIOS are unstable. Some are low performance, dragging the whole computer with it. And when you need it (for your software to perform), it’s a royal pain.
OpenBIOS enable bios to be robust, stable, (screaming) fast (can you say “my cluster boots in 3 seconds” in three seconds ?).
It single-handedly confirmed the need for & benefit of open source hardware.
More and more people are working on various open hardware projects. But the one most interesting today is the RepRap 3D printer.
A 3D printer by itself is already a very interesting stuff. Since these printers prints in 3D, not 2D, the results can be, well, anything.
Then there’s this feature where RepRap (REPlicating RApid Prototyper) can replicate / create itself. No kidding.
AND the hardware is open source. Way too cool.
I want one ! (too predictable 🙂 )
And we can expect more on this topic. OScar, OScav, OSGV, and several others are all projects aiming to create open source car. Yes, car. Those 4 wheeled vehicles 🙂
For the disabled, there’s OpenProsthetics.org.
Fancy yourself a robot? Here’s an open source one, Leaf.
And if you’re looking for world domination, OpenStim and their open source brain stimulator might fit the bill.
Looks like it will be big pretty soon. And when it does, we will benefit from it as well.
Kudos to them all.
Further reading : [ Open source hardware @ Wikipedia ]