Feeds

Linux-Lego man trumpets OSH revolution

Open source hardware 'ten years away'

Security for virtualized datacentres

Open-source plastic

It's no coincidence that Semmelhack's Bug Labs is an OSH operation, offering Lego-like Linux-based hardware modules that let developers piece together their own gadget prototypes with relative ease. Semmelhack envisions a world in which such reference designs are commonplace. This would include everything from chips, motherboards, and firmware to plastic PC enclosures and other case creations.

"In a perfect world, you have hardware mashups," he told the gathered ETech heads. "And these should work just like software mashups, so you have pieces and parts with standardized interfaces. You snap things together, and they work. It works in the software world - why can't it work with hardware?"

An OSH revolution would cut development time in half, he says, and devices could be tested and deployed for half the costs. And that means developers could build a market around devices that couldn't even see the light of day in our world. None too surprisingly, Semmelhack speaks of an untapped hardware gadget "long tail."

"There are all these long-tail gadget markets that exist, but developers run smack into the problem of how you do it economically. Health care is a prime example of this long-tail problem. There are all these tiny little vertical healthcare markets...and there's a business to be had there, but we have to find a way to actualize it. And that's where open-source hardware has something to say."

Semmelhack tells us that within ten years, we'll see an OSH revolution that mirrors the recent rise of open-source software. And though he does acknowledge the obstacles, he sees no reason they can't be overcome.

Microsoft's recent TomTom suit underlines the ongoing patent threat to the open-source software world. And Semmelhack agrees that hardware patents pose an even greater threat. But in the end, he shrugs them off.

"If anything, hardware patents are a deeper thicket than software," Semmelhack said. "It will be an issue. But I don't think it will be a terminal issue. The truth of the matter is that if you do anything moderately successful, you'll be sued."

And licenses aren't a problem either - even though there's no equivalent to source code in the hardware world, even though an open-source hardware license would have to cover, well, almost anything. "Open software licenses can be applied to hardware. You just have to be very specific about what they apply to, and though they're tricky, there's already a movement towards open-source hardware licenses."

In the end, Semmelhack says, businesses will embrace OSH because it's a money-saver - something that's particularly important amidst a shrinking economy.

"We're already seeing a lot of interest in what we're espousing because people want to continue to innovate. They know they can't stop innovating. It's like a bank knowing they can't stop lending. That's the business they're in. How do you have a bank if you can't lend money? How do you have a company if you can't sell a product? But you have to find a way to do it cost-effectively." ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
Hey, Mac fanbois. HGST wants you drooling over its HUGE desktop RACK
What vast digital media repository could possibly need 64 TERABYTES?
In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE
Rival electronic giant tries to iron out allegations
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.