2,532 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is a term for tangible artifacts -- machines, devices, or other physical things -- whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things. The basic motivation of OSHW is to give people "the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs." (Note the explicit relation to "commerce", as this is as much to act as an economic principle as it is one of knowledge management and enabling innovation).
Last year, I participated at the "Open Hardware Summit" in New York city, a large gathering of people interested in bringing the open source software idea to hardware products.The participants of the Summit were a very interesting and eclectic crowd, starting a really great debate on the opportunities, but also the challenges of OSHW (obviously, the opportunities won).
As a core result of the debate started at the summit, the official version of the "Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Statement of Principles and Definition v1.0" has now been published. This publication can be seen as profound and game-changing as the original "Open Source Definition," created by Bruce Perens and the Debian developers as the "Debian Free Software Guidelines" in 1997.
In the first official open hardw are definition, OSHW is defined as: "hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware's source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware."
The definition then states 12 criteria that characterize OSHW, among them the following:
I believe that the publishing of this definition could have an equally, of even wider, impact as the OSS movement. While not all hardware will be open, working on a license that allows hardware products to be designed, produced, and reproduced under these rules may start a new manufacturing movement that may change the way how products are designed and distributed (if only engineering students would have good and up-to-date mandatory classes in law and IP – as this is not the case it are the economists and management professors like me that care about the things while the average engineering student is being educated in a traditional way of IP and patents).
OSHW is exactly one of the interfaces between customization and open innovation that we want to discuss in larger detail during the MCPC 2011 conference in San Francisco in Nov 2011.
By Frank Piller
Frank Piller is a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. He is also a founding faculty member of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. Before entering his recent position in Aachen in March 2007, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (BPS, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group, 2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen (1999-2004).