The Effects of Open-source Hardware and Software

The Effects of Open-source Hardware and Software


The fairly new movement overtaking electronic engineers and developers is open-source hardware and software. This somewhat new open-source culture movement allows for electronic design concepts to become a reality at an exponentially cheaper and faster process.


In this FOSH (Free and open source hardware) process, hardware designs including the mechanical drawings, schematics, BOM (bill of material), PCB layout data, HDL source code, integrated circuit layout data, and the software that drives the hardware are all released under free terms. The companies taking this to the next level is Arduino and Raspberry Pi.


Raspberry Pi was first designed to be cheap and assessable. This pocket-sized computer sells around $40 and is based on Linux’s open-source software, but does not allow for open-source hardware. Arduino then followed suit by offering an open-source electronics platform where you can use open-source hardware and software to make your electronic design concept into an actual product.


One of the leading advantages of using an open-source hardware/software company like Arduino is that now smaller electronic firms can build prototypes much cheaper and faster. Open-source hardware/software can be used anywhere there is a controller. This new technology makes it easier to develop, maintain, and update projects while also being able to find code from other developers rather effortlessly. This is thought to shake up the OEM’s a bit since most of the products that they manufacture can now be built at a cheaper cost. Products including IoT devices, drones, and robotics can now not only be made by anyone, but they can also be customized to fit specific needs.


In addition, many people that work on open hardware/software projects are against exclusivity of design. Instead, they pride themselves on using a collaboration of designs by different developers to create a product. For example, today many companies are focused on AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology. Once the power of an open sourcing crowed is unleashed where they are focusing on a common project like this, it will be hard for any one company to compete.


Large companies are starting to use Arduino as well. Last July, NASA launched Black Brant IX, a suborbital sounding rocket to test “wireless-in-space. With the help from Arduino, NASA was able to manage communications between the local wireless network and the long-range satellite uplink. CERN has recently used Arduino to produce a particle accelerator. Arduino controlled the entire system from determining when integration was to occur, to what channel to read the voltage from, and to determine when to collect data based on input signals.


Services from companies like Arduino are also thought to revolutionize education since children can now create whatever they imagine at a fraction of the cost, while being able to collaborate with each other and improve on code that was already developed. Robotic classes in school can now be an affordable concept.


Open-source hardware and software unleashes human innovation like no other. According to Advanced MP Technology’s Chief Information Officer Sam Bigdeli, “It is going to have a significant impact in production, prototyping, and innovation. So now, we are facing an evolution in human ingenuity that is helping innovative people showcase their creativity much simpler, faster, and cheaper than ever.”


Advanced MP Technology is a leading global distributor of electronic components and prides itself on keeping up with the latest and greatest in the technology world. Housing more than one billion components worldwide in ESD-equipped warehouses, we are ready for the exponential advancement that technology brings.