The fundamental driver is that makers and engineers do not want to
re-invent the wheel and are often happy to share designs, design tips,
shortcuts in online forums so that those that follow them can make more
complex things more easily, he said.
The drinks-dispensing robot
company Party Robotics is based on the use of Arduino and then Raspberry
Pi boards. The company has been funded by the founders and Kickstarter
and has an open-source ethos. Panelist and co-founder of Party Robotics,
said: "Not having to create hardware was a huge benefit. That is why we
fold our designs back [in the open-source community] to allow even
Michael also made the point that he switched EDA
tools for design lay-out from Altium to Eagle. "You should use
open-source tools to make open-source products," Michael said. However,
he was immediately challenged by Kridner who pointed out that Eagle PCB
is not open-source but is an EDA program that happens to be available in
a free version.
But when asked if Party Robotics could go to
market with a totally open-source hardware philosophy Michael conceded:
"Now we are being told you got to lock down your IP if you are going to
Wolfe drew comparisons with the open-source software
domain where many companies do successfully ply their trade based on
support for open-source and freely available Linux distributions.
Loo made the point that in the case of open source software a lot of
engineers are motivated to contribute their efforts in return for credit
in a GPL listing. Unfortunately there is no such equivalent in hardware
and engineers sometimes have to be satisfied with knowing they designed
something and accept that it will be picked up and reused by others.
Nonetheless he said that hardware engineers are still prepared to put
their design work in the open-source domain because "engineering is one
the best-paid creative jobs out there."
What Van Loo did not
address explicitly is that engineering is usually done under
contractural terms where the employee surrenders copyright and
intellectual property rights to an employer who then holds those rights
closely. In the case of Raspberry Pi there is an educational remit and
in other cases open-source boards are enabled by chip vendors who want
to encourage developments around their hardware. In the case of the
beagleboard it is produced by Texas Instruments.
lot of public good will comes from using open-source hardware said
Pierre Michael. And the creation of add-on boards to Raspberry Pi and
Arduino, in turn, helps sell more Raspberry Pi and Ardiuno boards, he
said. "The online forum is part of the ecosystem and helps interesting
things get made."