The Long Tail of Hardware

Open source hardware is fun for a girl or a boy!

I just read an interesting dissertation by Leah Buechley and Benjamin Mako Hill from MIT about diy culture as it relates to electrical engineering.

“… when media is easy to create, publish and distribute, production and consumption decentralize. While the 20th century was dominated by large companies who mass produced media that was mass consumed by the public, the 21st century is emerging as a time where media is produced and consumed in an increasingly non-homogeneous fashion by niche groups. These niche groups… use the internet to construct, share, find, and consume material that fits their particular (sometimes very particular) interests.”

I have heard quite a bit about the LilyPad/Arduino since its initial release in 2007, but I honestly had no idea that it was part of a grand experiment to bring engineering and design together in the hands of the “people”.  I’m a huge fan of end user customization and innovation.

If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this awesome tutorial for making your own bicycle turn signal jacket.  You don’t even have to learn how to solder as long as you can sew (with conductive thread…).

LED me over a-hole!

While you’re at it, enjoy this bizarre interactive embroidery project at SternLab.

That was just two examples of open source hardware implementation, but there are thousands of them swimming out there on the interwebs.  If you find a particularly spiffy one on your own, LilyPad or not, please post in the comments!


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