An introductory guide to open-source hardware

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Open source material for beginners.

The “open-source” descriptor is becoming more prevalent in today’s conversations about Technology. It applies to many cryptocurrencies such as Ethereumas well as other forms of software.

Yet you can also use “open-source” to refer to a particular type of hardware. While it refers to a similar concept in both cases, it’s worth digging a little deeper into exactly what it means in the context of hardware to better understand its usage.

But before we do that, let’s take a look at a superordinate concept. “Open Design” means the development of technology through the use of publicly shared information. This is usually facilitated by the Internet, without remuneration.

With this notion in place, we are ready to dig deeper into what open source hardware really is.

What is open source hardware?

An open source piece of hardware is physical technology made using open design principles. The design specifications of this material are licensed so that the object can be created, studied, modified and distributed by absolutely anyone.

Rather than being limited to a particular type of technology or object, the limits of this category reside exclusively in the accessibility of the material.

Therefore, a huge variety of products are part of it. There are open-source computers like the BeagleBoardopen source, automobiles, chairs, robots, and open source variants of many other types of hardware.

electronic communication engineering chips

What are the benefits of open source hardware?

To be truly open-source, the license that governs the hardware must allow design files to be easily obtained. This enables and encourages others to study, troubleshoot, modify, and improve the material in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

On the other hand, “closed” hardware makes recreating and modifying the object as difficult as possible, excluding innovation and collaboration that benefits everyone.

The largest open source movement helps to democratize technological research. It offers the world the opportunity to radically reduce research costs and make design and technology accessible to everyone, including Health careenergy and manufacturing industries.

The future of open source hardware

Since the open source hardware movement started to take off around 2010, it has seen impressive growth. Today it includes an incredibly diverse group of people working on a plethora of designs.

According to data published by the Open Source Hardware Association, open source hardware has been certified in 45 countries worldwidecovering all continents except Antarctica.

By all appearances, the community will continue to grow. Although the bulk of certified projects are currently primarily in electronics, there are currently open licenses in over fifteen other industries.

Provided the progress of the movement maintains its current momentum, there is a real possibility that it will make the ideals of collaboration and the innovation behind it.

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