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March 14, 2008

The Next Open Frontier: Hardware

I've waxed on about fabbers and the like for some time on this blog and elsewhere, so I was suitably impressed by this presentation on open source hardware by Limor Fried and Phillip Torrone. It sets out the various aspects that make up the "source" of an object, from bill of materials to circuit design, and the standards for exchanging them.

Of course this is at the rather more technical end of the fabject continuum. At the other there is the amazing Ponoko site, which enables users to create their designs from regular EPS files, pick the materials, and then have them laser-cut to order. Designers can choose to sell the cut and/or assembled product, or to sell or give away the design as EPS files.

table fabject from Ponoko

Currently the custom fabjects are a little pricey compared to their mass-produced compatriots, and the processes limited in terms of materials and processes. But add in cheaper 3D printing and other fabbing technologies, and simple programmable wireless platforms like SPOT and Bug, and we'll soon be churning out spimes on demand.

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