What was I doing at the Open Source Hardware Summit and the Makers Faire in Rome? I’m not sure, but was attracted by the notions of sharing knowledge and technology, pooling resources, reducing waste, grassroots involvement and definitely wanted to know more about 3D printers.
The blurb lived up to its expectations as it was full of ‘INNOVATORS, CODERS, HACKERS, MAKERS, FUTURISTS, FINANCERS, AND ANYONE WHO HAD A STORY TO TELL ABOUT HOW THE FUTURE COULD BE.’
It was so stimulating, innovative, inspiring, an explosion to my brain, a launch into a future full of positive ideas and alternatives to how we are living today. A total immersion in a new world of dreamers, designers and makers doing so much to make a positive change to help this tired old Earth breathe new life, find new options and make creative devices to alleviate pain and suffering. I was flabbergasted, astounded and exhilarated by it all.
And you may ask, what it’s all about? This will be my humble non geek version of what I gleaned from the experience and perhaps take some of you along the road with me to explore what’s happening in your own areas.
Open source hardware is about developing new things using (electronic) technology and leaving all the details of how you did it available to everyone so anyone can build on their own modifications, pool resources and knowledge to produce better projects. It’s giving control back to the people, a type of globalized grassroots approach to sharing of information, rather than privatizing, commercializing and creating objects that someone else thinks you need and isn’t going to tell you how they made it! Using social networks for a GREAT cause.
A lot spins around the use of an Arduino which is described on Wiki as ‘an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators.”
Some of the projects discussed were to save the world from water and food shortages, complex health problems, reducing waste, monitoring environments as well as the more frivolous wearable technology – solar panels inserted into clothing to enable you to recharge your mobile device or flashing and flashy headgear and the like.
The Fablab workshop people visit schools to encourage students to come and tinker and make their own projects. They had been somewhat disappointed with student’s reactions, as often when giving examples of projects developed the first questions were “How much does it cost? Can I get it as an App?” rather than “How was it made?” The new generation obviously needs more stimulus!.
The best I can do is to give some examples for you to explore on websites and youtube like: The Strati 3D printed car by Local Motors It can be printed in 44 hours and assembled in 2 days, weighs 680kg, powered by a Renault Twizy electric motor that does up to 60kph and designed by an Italian Michele Anoè from Turin
The Warka water project Italian design water container and shelter made from simple local building materials. Collecting water even from condensation, like droplets on a spiders web
Pizza 3D printed and other foods so astronauts can have more appetizing and nutritional meals, and no packaging waste.
The new style wheelchair – Marioway – to keep disabled in a standing position, thus alleviating bad posture, poor breathing and other health problems. Helping them lead a normal life, by seeing us (non disabled) eye to eye. Only part of the Demo here with a couple dancing together. It was so moving, I was not the only one close to tears.
Phonebloks a new style of mobile phone with easily replaceable bits, as only 5% of he 1,800,000.000 (!?!) mobile phones produced every year are recycled. And think about it, we are updating out mobiles on average every 2 1/2 years and tossing the old one!
Robo hands as a prosthesis, made by a 3D printer and put together even by children who need them, at a cost around $US 30.
The foldscope mini microscope that could be made for $US1 and help in the prevention of diseases
There was just so much, I cannot put it all in a humble post. A lot of the projects are still looking for funds through various start up and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and need all of us to be thinking of ways we may be able to contribute…. not just financially.
To cap off the event the first man to ever have an antenna planted in his brain – Neil Harbisson talked about his adventure in cyborism art. The antenna gives him colours in sounds as he was born only being able to see in black and white.
The whole conference was a celebration of a possible form of future, a better world. And as they said ‘The same future you can grab with your own hands, even though it looks like Sci-Fi’
I’m off now to find my nearest Open source Fablab and 3D printer hub! And you?