On the coattails of the rise of intellectual property and economic monopolies, the Open Source movement is thriving, expanding public access to knowledge, culture and tools. Advocates have opened up everything from software to science, media to politics…and of course, data.
1. Agriculture: FarmBot
We live on a planet that is experiencing exponential population growth. Everybody needs to eat, so many companies are working to make agriculture as efficient as possible. Problem is, they’re all proprietary (or “closed source”). So Rory Aronson, founder of FarmBot, is taking on the challenge of opening up agricultural technologies so we can all start to grow our food as efficiently as possible.
2. Waste: Precious Plastics
Commercial recycling operations are great, but often the applications for recycled materials, especially plastics, are limited. So Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Dave Hakkens recently showcased a series of open source machines he’s developed for repurposing waste plastics into new and useful things. Now anyone can build a local micro-recycling centre to service their (and their communities?) needs.
3. Housing: WikiHouse
WikiHouse is an open source construction. Users can freely download a series of files, purchase a bunch of plywood, and cut the designs out using a CNC router. The pieces all snap together like a giant puzzle (with instructions) and you can even cut out wooden mallets to help knock the joints together. This project is lowering barriers of entry to house building, so almost anyone can do it.
4. Ecology: Open Source Beehives
Bee colony collapse is a crisis we’ve heard a lot about over the past several years. Many people are aware, but there are very few grassroots solutions on the table. The OSBH project is helping citizens prevent bee population decline by bringing sensor-enhanced bee conservation into their backyards. Confession: I’m one of the founders of this project, but I really believe in it’s significance, otherwise I wouldn’t be putting all my energy behind it. If you care about colony collapse, please check out our Indiegogo!
5. Connectivity: Spark.io
With all this talk of “The Internet of Things” there needs to be a piece of hardware that connects your technologies to the Internet, right? And it needs to be open source, so you can change it to suit your needs. Thats where Spark.io comes in. This Arduino compatible board lets even non-programmers start to make their hardware smarter.
6. Environment: Public Lab
Since our Governments and Corporations have become as corrupted as they are powerful, and democratic process is in many ways broken, the time has come for citizens to look after our own environment. Public Lab is facilitating this movement by developing open source hardware tools to generate knowledge and share data about community environmental health.
In order to utilise some of the open hardware designs out there, we need reliable digital fabrication tools to bring them from the digital into reality. These two projects give us considerably cheaper access to these tools in the increasingly important areas of laser cutting and CNC milling.
8. Clean Energy 1: The Gasifier Experimenters Kit
Ever wonder if you could turn you compost (or biomass) into energy? With this open source gasifier kit from All Power Labs, you can. This kit, available at multiple levels of energy output, can help you to lower your carbon footprint, while lessening your waste output. As an Open Hardware company, APL offer their kit for sale, but give the plans to make it yourself for free!
9. Clean Energy 2: Zenman Energy
Since energy production is one of the major issues of our time, here’s another open source energy project coming at the solution from a different angle. Zenman Energy have been working tirelessly to develop a cheap solar concentrator for you to harness power from the mother of all energy resources, the sun. Check out what even a mall solar concentrator can do here.
10. Transport: The Tabby
The Tabby is an open source, electric car designed by the team at Open Source Vehicle. According to the team, the whole car (once you have the parts) can be assembled in only an hour. This is a relatively new project, and definitely one to keep an eye on.