With the school year just getting started, Halloween coming up, and World Maker Faire just around the corner, it is a very exciting time in the Maker world. And in addition to the aforementioned events, it is also time again for the 2015 Open Source Hardware Summit!
The Open Source Hardware Summit was founded in 2010 and is the first comprehensive conference on open hardware. It functions as an annual opportunity to discuss and draw attention to the rapidly growing Open Source Hardware movement, and this year will be held in Philadelphia, PA, on the 19th of September. In addition to enabling a platform for discussion, this conference is also a opportunity to see some incredible speeches, interact with other members of the movement, and get educated and involved. Digilent is beyond excited to be in support and attendance of this important event!
For those who may not be familiar, Open Source Hardware is physical technology created and offered by the open design movement. Generally this means that the hardware is easily discerned so others can make it, and that the design, PCB layout data, source code, integrated circuit layout data, software and other information is all released under free terms. The creator gets feedback and gains a reputation within the community, and the community is able to utilize an likely otherwise inaccessible resource. Additionally, recent research has shown that sharing in such a way creates enormous economic value.
Due to the implicit physical nature of hardware however, open sourcing hardware completely is a challenge. Fortunately, with the introduction of 3D printing this is becoming easier, but open-source hardware still faces great obstacles in reducing cost and financial risk for its developers. Additionally, it must strike a delicate legal balance in order to maintain the movement. And with the recent explosion of the Maker movement, it has become increasingly relevant in recent years in this community. However, without consistent and structured discussion on the rules and standards for open sourced hardware, it would not be possible for people to continue to provide it.
Digilent has been on board with the movement as well. Our entire robotics line, and chipKIT line are completely open source, as well as all the shields. This is in addition to most of our software, our Wiki, and Fritzing. We are also part of creating the community at Zedboard.org and recently introduced our Robotics Open Hardware Initiative and the all robotics hardware designs on our Repables page. Our goal is to utilize 3D printing to make various robotics parts accessible, as well as to encourage others to get involved and post their own designs.
Even more exciting however are Digilent’s future plans. Come 2016, our Pmods and Accessory boards will be open source as well, which will bring us from being about 25% open source, to a incredible 75%!
We love seeing what people can come up with, as well as encouraging and enabling the learning spirit and we cannot wait for the conference this weekend!