Many of us know about the open source software, but few actually realize that there’s also some open source hardware as well. What open source hardware actually consists of is a set of numerous physical artifacts that are technology related and whose design and functionality is created as well as offered with the help of the open design movement.
Just like in the case of open source software, the open source hardware design can be modified by anyone, as everything from the schematics to design data, HDL source code, circuit layout and even material bills are available for any person to study and modify according to their own knowledge. Of course, instead of the actual schematics, the hardware description language code is shared. As expected, the open source hardware runs under to normal free and open source licenses such as LGPL, MIT, GPL, BSD and OSS, among others. The main purpose here is to protect the patent rather than copyright, as the latter is more important in the case of software rather than hardware.
There are multiple types of open hardware that are being produced, and most of them are created to serve a certain purpose. From robot schematics based on Arduino type devices to 3D printers that have an open design, all of these are very important since they tend to provide solutions to real world problems, but anyone can contribute to them, which is great. In fact, many open hardware designs are widely used in public facilities all over the world, so open hardware does indeed help humanity even in its early stages.
Alongside that, inventors and contest participants are continually improving designs and removing the bugs, with many of them receiving community funding in order to advance. Many open source labs from all over the country are actually knee deep in developing and creating designs that, once they are completed, are shared with the community.
There are numerous companies that created open hardware nowadays, however some of them have actually registered a trademark on their designs, with Arduino being a great example in this regard. Some of these companies have actually created a business model The main purpose of the open hardware is to provide people with complete control over the technologies and how they are used right now on the market. Open hardware is all about having freedom and creativity in order to provide some astonishing designs that people can use to create their own variations of a certain product.
Open source hardware has changed multiple fields of work such as robotics and 3D printing, but as far as we know, this could be only the beginning. Sharing designs with others can make the world advance much further and thus we surely think that the open source hardware is only beginning to show its true potential, so we are anxious to see what the future will hold up in this regard.
Further reading: “Building Open Source Hardware: DIY Manufacturing for Hackers and Makers” by Alicia Gibb
Homepage: Open Source Hardware Association