Open Hardware Summit took place in NYC this year and coincided with Makerfaire as well as recently announced makerweek.

With me this year I brought some tiny hackable friends who slipped some stickers into the swagbag. Incase you haven’t met one before MAKIES come with a specially designed head and tummy in which you can stash all sorts of open hardware. (Full disclosure – I work in the Makielab)

Presenting the toy as a platform for making, remembering that you can hack the doll in a multitude of ways is interesting in opening the toy and games industry. Perhaps I’ll talk some more about that in the future.

Often OH discussions focus on mainstream developer tools, internet connected things, data and so open tools for developing regions shared by Pat Delany was an interesting addition to the line up. Pat develops and shares tools that can be built using locally found materials and are intended as a way in which the ‘means of production’ can be handed to  communities that may most benefit from them.

Pat outlined thoughtful strategies for distributing plans to the right people in the respective community given lack of NGO support. Pat spoke of distributing leaflets to local taxi drivers who, given their reliance on mechanics, and the fact that many of the components are old car components serve as the ideal means by which the community can be seeded.

Jim Burke took a rather more playful approach with his talk on how competition and hackerspaces inspire the public. Pointing to his open Power Racing Series in which competitors are encouraged to hack motorised toy cars and compete in a fun derby style race. Moxie points and alternative point systems provide all competitors with a chance of winning reducing pressure to compete and opening the race to a wide range of competitors. Jim suggests that this playful approach to hacking and making is important in drawing in non-typical competitors.

Erin Kennedy also known as @RobotGrrl showcased RFID/NFC robots presenting a compelling case for toolkits and open innovation in aiding robot development.  With an interest in social robotics Erin is one to watch!

Of course all of this happened at a time in which Makerbot opened their first NY retail store and faced questions from the open source community over a perceived as a shift away from the open principles that Makerbot was founded upon to which Bre responded with an insight into the challenges of open source.

Lest I forget the ever wonderful Chris Novello played OHS out with his mario tetris codebending mix. I ❤ nerds.

P.s. Open Source Hardware Association is also open for membership – join here.


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