The State of Open Source Hardware

Presented at HOPE Number Nine (2012), July 13, 2012, 11 a.m. (60 minutes)

In the last few years, open source hardware went from an obscure hobby to a burgeoning movement built on values and practices derived from open source software, hacker culture, and craft traditions. This increase is visible in the exponential growth of the community of developers and users, the increase in the number and revenue of open source hardware businesses, and the emergence of a large number of new DIY gadgets and machinery - from 3D printers and microcontrollers to soft circuits and tech crafts. The accessibility of hardware plans, along with the communities and collaborative practices that surround them, is lowering the barrier to entry and encouraging people of all ages and walks of life to create, hack, and re-purpose hardware. Taken together, hackerspaces, the increasing accessibility of digital fabricators, and these open and collaborative practices are leading to an explosion of creativity and innovation reminiscent of the golden years of the Homebrew Computer Club. This panel will go over the defining events of the last few years to draw a snapshot of the current state of the open source hardware movement and the impact it’s having in hacker culture and beyond. Also included in the discussion will be the Open Hardware Summit: the world’s first comprehensive conference on open hardware, and how it will serve as a venue to discuss and draw attention to the rapidly growing open source hardware movement.


  • Dustyn Roberts
    Dustyn Roberts is an engineering consultant, professor, author, and perpetual student. As a professor, she has developed two courses for NYU’s interactive telecommunications program: Mechanisms and Things That Move (which led to a book entitled Making Things Move: DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists), and Biomechanics for Interactive Design. Dustyn holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, an MS in biomechanics from the University of Delaware, and is currently a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow and PhD candidate in mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. She is also the co-chair of the Open Hardware Summit and a member of the hackerspace NYC Resistor.
  • Catarina Mota
    Catarina Mota is co-founder of the Open Materials project and the hackerspace Altlab, co-chair of the Open Hardware Summit, and a member of NYC Resistor. She teaches hands-on workshops on hi-tech materials and simple circuitry, with the goal of encouraging people with little to no science background to take a proactive interest in science, technology, and knowledge sharing.


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