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Open Source Hardware—Good for Business?

Peter Semmelhack (Bug Labs)
City Tech, Developing Markets
Location: Empire Room
Average rating: ***..
(3.00, 4 ratings)

The business benefits of open source software are well documented. But can the same or similar benefits also be realized by using open source hardware (OSH)? From “crowdsourcing” R&D to enabling true customization/personalization to economically exploring otherwise-ignored niche markets, product developers, hardware manufacturers, and others (such as Bug Labs) are discovering how OSH can help unlock the significant potential found in the long-tail of electronics.

But while OSH has proven to be a tinkerer’s dream, for some CEOs it’s a pandora’s box. Issues of community engagement, realistic business models, and concerns with open source licensing are just some of the obstacles encountered when considering OSH as the path to success. In this session, Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of Bug Labs, will address some of these issues, discuss the opportunties and challenges, and provide anecdotes from his experiences at Bug Labs.

Photo of Peter Semmelhack

Peter Semmelhack

Bug Labs

Peter Semmelhack is the founder and CEO of Bug Labs, a company that empowers users to develop truly personal devices. Previously, Peter was the founder and CTO of Antenna Software, a leading mobile enterprise software vendor. Following a 20 year career in software, Peter founded Bug Labs on the belief that users and communities should have the power to create and share devices in the same way they create and share digital content.

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Picture of Jeremy Douglass
Jeremy Douglass
03/13/2009 2:34pm PDT

In addition to a conceptual overview, Semmelhack provided some concrete examples of cost levels at various stages and how barriers to market entry changed when the hardware was open, keeping his talk grounded with personal anecdotes.

The presentation focused mainly on economic planning, and provoked questions during Q&A on the relevance of intellectual property issues—patents, indemnification, how open specifications circulate as software, etc.

Picture of Gene Becker
Gene Becker
03/11/2009 6:50pm PDT

Good intro-level talk, there are important ideas in here.

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