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Open source is moving beyond the real worlds of business and consumer systems into the more experimental sphere of personal gadgetry.

Start-up Bugs Labs has said it plans to base the software element of its forthcoming range of "plug-together" hardware modules on Linux with Java and OSGi used further up the software stack.

Bugs Labs is aiming the product at engineers who want to experiment with new programmable hardware devices. The BUGbase - the heart of the product - provides an ARM microprocessor, USB ports, Wi-fi and a rechargeable battery.

The first in what Bugs Labs says will be a growing range of plug-in BUGmodules are expected before the end of this year. They include a digital camera, a mini touch screen, a GPS module and a motion detector. In 2008 it plans to offer a mini keyboard and an audio connection board.

The news comes after Microsoft released an upgrade to its Windows-based Microsoft Robotics Studio last month. Microsoft last year singed a deal with Lego to provide software for the toymaker's Mindstorm robot kit to help rejuvenate the line of buildable, programmable machines that debuted in 1998.®

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