Since its wide implementation in software, Open Source has made its benefits obvious in a number of ways. We see a community of like-minded, curious people sharing resources and knowledge for the sole betterment of the product. It’s selfless. Everything becomes accessible, customizable, and flexible wheh the development and application of a project becomes open to the entire world. Innovation happens at a rapid pace with ideas evolving on a huge and communal scale.
When Open Source translates over to hardware, the results are profound. We see tools and solutions being born from a real need in the world. It’s being reproduced and distributed where it is most needed. Here at Upverter, we’re big believers in the power of Open Hardware. Here’s our list of the 5 most important (and downright inspiring) Open Source projects we’ve come across.
Richard Van As, a carpenter from Johannesburg, created Robohand after he lost four of his right-hand fingers in a work-related accident. After having his idea of making a mechanical hand repeatedly turned down by others, he looked towards 3D printing to work out a solution himself.
Today, Robohand has enabled more than 200 people with its open source design including children born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, a disorder which stops the growth of extremities – often fingers and toes – during fetal development. Click here to watch the video by MakerBot on Robohand’s story.
2. Cooking Hacks: e-Health Sensor Platform
Cooking Hacks has launched an Arduino and Raspberry Pi-compatible biometric shield that opens up a wide spectrum of monitoring devices for medical purposes. The platform uses 10 different sensors to gather real time data for medical diagnosis, including blood oxygen level, galvanic skin response, body temperature, and airflow. Read more on the project here.
3. The Tricorder Project: Open Source CT scanner
In many cases, diagnosing a patient with just external symptoms is simply not possible. CT scanners allow doctors to look inside the body, providing crucial information on the source of the problem. But they are wildly expensive and often not a viable option for poorer regions.
The Tricorder Project has created an inexpensive, Open Source CT scanner made almost entirely out of laser-cut parts. As the project matures and develops with the help of the community, it could serve as a much needed medical machine for developing countries.
4. Open Source Beehives
You might have recently heard of Colony Collapse Disorder. The population of worker bees has been taking a huge, unexplained hit in numbers. In some parts of the world, it has plummeted to a point where beekeepers can no longer produce honey. It’s currently scaling up to an economic issue with many agricultural crops relying on bees for pollination.
The Open Source Beehives is a crowdfunded project which aims to solve this problem. Designed with sensors which gather much-needed data on the bees, the army of printed hives may find the root cause of CCB before it’s too late.
5. Open Source Ecology
Founded in 2003, Open Source Ecology collaboratively develops blueprints for 50 of the most important machines needed for modern life to exist. The collection, named Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), includes designs for a tractor, oven, wind turbine, and even a 3D printer. The group’s vision is for the set to serve as a kernel for building modern infrastructures around the world.