First there was open source software. Then came open standards, open architecture, open access, open data, open knowledge, open communities… and now we have open source hardware. Open source hardware is just one more component of the ever growing collaborative 'open source' cultural movement sweeping across the nation and around the world.
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. See http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW
Open source hardware gives people the 'freedom' to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through collaboration and the open exchange of designs. See video on Open Source Hardware at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0HOgcbtmws
The open source hardware design (e.g. mechanical drawings, schematics, bill of materials, integrated circuit layout data), are all released in accordance with generally accepted open source practices. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_hardware
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.
As you can see from the current List of Open Source Hardware on Wikipedia, there are hundreds if not thousands of open source hardware projects springing up around the world related to the design and development of electronic equipment, machines, tools, energy solutions, medical devices, robotics, automotive technology, and more. Check it out!
Selected 'Open Hardware' Links
Finally, the emergence of a robust open source hardware community composed of individuals and organizations from industry, academia, and government will be needed in order to effectively address and overcome the many challenges out there. Remember, collaboration, open solutions, and innovation are the key management strategies companies need to embrace to succeed and prosper in the 21st century. Explore the "Open Way".
Have you gotten involved with an open source hardware project? Tell us about it.
Selected Videos on 'Open Source Hardware'
* Visit the the Collaboration, Open Solutions, & Innovation (COSI) web site at www.cositech.net