Gabriela Levine, OSHWA President, interviewed by Simone Cicero:
[SC] New fields for open source hardware are growing day by day: many new projects bring Open Source Hardware to new markets (automotive, furniture,etc…). Some important, cross-sector, projects were born in 2013 (see the link): what are the new fields you expect Open Source Hardware to thrive with?
[GL] There are a number of types of companies that I see thriving within the Open Hardware community.
Distributors: For example, Seeed Studio, Sparkfun and Adafruit are distributing inexpensive, small run supplies of open source hardware tools, sensors, components, and goods. They are all dedicated to providing their users with documentation, tutorials and Beginner kits, as well as providing a platform for forums and wikis where people can collaborate together online. These three companies are innovating in a unique way that really shows this reciprocation between the community and the company: as the users and community members implement sensors and components, the companies see what is popular. Then, they in turn curate their inventory and make their own sensor platforms based on community needs as well as community designs. This type of sales and distribution of electronics has proven quite successful.
Platform technologies: Companies that are proliferating tools for others to use seems to be trending. These types of platforms include:
Robotic platforms, think to OpenROV (open source hardware underwater unmanned submarines for purposes such as underwater photography, plastic trash sensing, fisheries monitoring, and educational tools) or DiyDrones (the largest community for modular flying robots, the biggest distributor being from the company of the founder, Chris Anderson @ 3D robotics)
Prototyping platforms are going to continue to expand, including microcontroller platforms like from Arduino and more complex linux based systems like BeagleBone. The derivatives of both microcontrollers and linux based boards have increased so much and branched so many derivative companies and products.
Open Hardware toolkits for things like 3D fabrication and laser cutting (such as the Lasersaur) are also super impactful for the education platforms as well as for open and local manufacturing.
Open Source Hardware for educational platforms (such as Little Bits), more non traditional educational facilities are sprouting up that are using hands-on engagement, learning through play, peer-based learning.”