Sunday, April 17, 2011

Open source hardware

This seems like quite a simple and noble idea: the development and sharing of free, open source hardware designs that make use of local and recycled materials in order to construct cheap, functional versions of the most useful machines. Projects like this are a reminder that for-profit operations don't have a monopoly on innovation and social benefit and represent a broadening of our social and moral imagination.


CharlieK said...

What a great idea ! Open source has become more wide spread in the IT world. A similar concept to help societies with low cost machines not built for obsolescence is brilliant.

I believe Engineer's say you can *only* have any two of the following in the real world for any project/event:
- (Low) Cost
- (Short) Time
- (High) Quality

You can't ever have all three together at once !

I'm guessing you get Cost down and reasonable Quality, but you sacrifice Time as you have to build it yourself.

byron smith said...

Yes, it strikes me as a very interesting expansion of the idea and a form of cross-fertilisation between different fields of thought and action.

I like the two of these three idea. And I think you're right about time, though many of those who might benefit from such ideas may well have some of it on their hands.

Anonymous said...

Interesting checklist there CharlieK. I believe these guys have cracked the Low Cost, LONG Time AND High Quality formula, but minus the frills. For example, they are not paying for shinny brightly painted panels to cover everything, highly decorative logos, market penetration studies and all the silly hype and advertising around that.

Remember our old foe "Built in Obsolescence?" These have Built in Longevity.

The parts are swappable, like Lego. Once you've built the Drill Press you can work your way up to the Cutting Table, the Baker's Oven, and finally the Tractor (which looks like a cross between a space-buggy and military tank!)

So I guess they have cracked Longevity as best as they can, and if something breaks, you can be sure that the village that built the thing knows how to repair it from local parts!

It's a simply awesome idea and I've raved about it to a few politicians over on the African Union website... whether my comments even got through the SPAM filter I don't know!

Know any missionaries in villages that might do with this very practical tool-kit? Forward this video on to them!