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How Open Source Hardware Is Kick-Starting Kickstarter 44

ptorrone writes "Imagine waking up and seeing your design for a circuit being used in a product by someone who never contacted you to ask if it was okay. You will not get any payment for their usage of your design, they've raised over $31,000, and they're selling something you worked really hard on. You have no control over what someone does with something you made. Is this a nightmare? Perhaps for some, but this is actually a dream come true for others who do open-source hardware. MAKE magazine profiles a maker using open-source hardware for his now-funded project and looks at others using open hardware for their works."
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How Open Source Hardware Is Kick-Starting Kickstarter

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  • for lengthy periods of time?
  • Greed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cloudmaster ( 10662 ) on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:29PM (#37794124) Homepage Journal

    If I didn't have the resources and someone else did, good for them. This is not hypothetical: I publicly posted an idea a while back to build a device for myself, and a couple of years later, it was a successful consumer electronic product someone else made. Someone else did the production and marketing, and then a big company eventually bought the company out. Yeah, I had the idea and did the initial design, but I wouldn't have marketed it. So I'm glad someone else was able to get what they wanted.

    People who want to hoard knowledge are bad for society. If you actually will act upon it, great, you need some protections like patents or whatever. But if it's just something you enjoy doing, be happy with doing what you enjoy. Life's not all about money...

    • Life is not all about money, but if you've got hungry kids, it's hard to keep that thought in the foreground of your mind.

      • Life is not all about money, but if you've got hungry kids, it's hard to keep that thought in the foreground of your mind.


        My kids are not hungry.

        So, true, but uninteresting.

      • Who said you can't make money from open hardware? Of course you can, just like with open source you need to focus on the scarcities. The article itself talks about Kickstarter -- which is money in the bank before you even have a proper product to sell! Think about that, financially it doesn't get any better than that for inventors (unless they are working for a company, in which case they still won't own the invention at the end).

        And inventors can keep on making money off their open work. Perhaps they aren'

      • by cduffy ( 652 )

        If you're good enough that what you do that your ideas are getting made into products, I'd be surprised if your kids are going hungry.

        Not having their college funds paid for? Sure, but that's a different story.

        • by shmlco ( 594907 )

          Lot's of people have ideas, but don't have the time or inclination to make them products.

          And some people are simply too lazy to do so...

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            Lot's of people have ideas, but don't have the time or inclination to make them products.

            And some people are simply too lazy to do so...

            Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone everyday comes up with plenty.

            The hard part is turning an idea into reality, and it's even harder to turn that prototype into something manufacturable and saleable. Even then there's no guarantee it'll make it.

            The real work in anything is the implementation.

      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        You know that whole controversial "hierarchy of social needs" pyramid? I think we need something similar, but finanacially.

        i.e. at the top would be making rent, then making sure all the bills are paid, then making sure everyone is fed, then making sure you have disposable income to buy clothes and the other necessities, then saving for retirement, etc.

    • And you didn't get a dime from your work. How selfish are you. We support giving away your ideas and your work for free and in the same breath you complain how hard it is to get a job, or how the middle class is getting paid less. However you give away tools for the big corporations to use for free. Meaning they won't need to spend money on hiring people to do a lot of good middle class jobs such as making software for them. Or buying it from a company who has a team of middle class paid developers wor

    • You should have patented the design, then you could now sue *big company* for big bucks... the system works!

      -- troll comment meant in sarcasm.
    • That's cool. But, did the company patent the idea and keep anyone else from using it?

    • I dunno....I think if a device is "open" it shouldn't be open to exploit for corporate greed. In a way it's a messed up version of when a corporation would steal another's ideas only in this case, the creator is giving said idea away willfully and still not getting anything out of it. "Oh I'm just happy my idea is being used"....if that's not the result of the worst case of pinko hippie indoctrination (i.e. crap) I've ever heard....I don't know what is.

  • If your idea is unique enough to get a patent, patent it. Not everybody who can invent wants to run a company.

  • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) * on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:46PM (#37794388)

    I donated to an open source hardware group called "Global Village Construction Set".

    I hate the whole "Global Village" concept. I love the idea of sitting down and designing hardware to be cheap to make, and giving away the designs.

    And just like open source, you can improve on the original designs, fix any flaws, etc.

  • by QuasiSteve ( 2042606 ) on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:57PM (#37794618)

    I'm pretty sure KickStarter really kickstarted with indie movies, music, etc. In fact, they are still the main projects on KickStarter (and similar sites, like indiegogo).

    What's really 'kickstarting' KickStarter a second time, at least when it comes to tech, is the iDevice.

    There's two areas for technology, the Tech section:

    And the Design section, which is vastly more tech than design:

    1 in 5 of the projects in either section section are iDevice-oriented - this includes, for example, the 'Sacred Grounds' smartphone app, by which they really mean iOS app and "they hope" to make an Android version as well.

    For the Design section this of course makes sense.. the iPhone and iPad give a narrow target with lots of users so you're far more likely to gain success with e.g. a stand or enclosure there than you could when designing for any single random Android, BB, WP7 or whatever device.

    But also keep in mind it includes such gems as this: []

    Now I'm all for cable management solutions, even if there's dozens available in the world that doesn't mean we can't have one more. But the additional quality of this cable management is that it can double as a stand for an iPad, the project summary (as seen in widgets etc.) notes:

    Cable.Gone hides the usual clutter and instantly turns your desk into a stylish working space. It can be also used as an iPad stand.

    Yes.. then again, it could be used as any tablet stand. It could be used as a laptop stand. Similarly, a two-by-four could also be used as an iPad stand.

    So why point out the iPad? Marketing, of course. And not just to end-users, but to KickStarter as well. I've more than once joked to people who are doing innovative tech that if they want to get listed on KickStarter, they should mention an iDevice in some way to increase their odds.
    With 1 in 5 projects being iDevice-exclusive or iDevice-targeting in those two sections, I'm not sure I should be treating it as just a joke anymore.

    A bit more on-topic.. 'open hardware' is indeed a large portion of the other 4 in 5 projects in those sections - sometimes from the get-go, sometimes after deliberations and popular demand (such as with the HexBright Flex flashlight). 'open software' however lags behind quite a bit with most projects going nowhere fast. In part that's because those projects tend to be vague, and in part it's because there's often no visible ROI. With an indie movie, you get some exclusive images, a downloadable copy, perhaps even the DVD. With hardware you might get a kit to build it yourself, or a pre-assembled thing, or maybe you just get to see that a website that ends up selling the completed products was indeed launched and you get a sticker (hey, whatever you pledge for - it's not a bazaar after all, it's more like an investment round.. rewards are just for enticement). But with software, especially open source software.. what people, or the market, get is often unclear.
    E.g. TweetFree: []

    Your generous donation will be used to fund continued development of TweetFree, to purchase support contracts for open source software we use and need support on, and to purchase hardware (computers) to run new relay and network servers from.

    So in essence, any funding goes into a black box never to be seen, or accounted for, again, if the blurbs are the only thing to go by. And this for a service that vaguely de

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