Developing free hardware using Vivaldi and Improv as examples

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Aaron Seigo is an open hardware pioneer whose endurance and stamina can't be appreciated too highly – this goes for his colleagues as well. Starting a free hardware project turns out to be harder than for free software (see also the "Open Hardware" box). The open source community has the means of production in place for software, but free hardware depends on the reliability and credibility of manufacturers in the Far East.

Open Hardware

Open source hardware can be found not only in information technology but also in many other areas. It defines itself by virtue of its license-free blueprints and openly licensed drivers. Various projects strive for different degrees of freedom, depending on feasibility. Among the best known examples of free hardware are Arduino [20], Parallella [21], the US$ 100 laptop OLPC [22], the Open Prosthetics Project [23], and Frankencamera [24].

Improv was completed against all odds and now "just" needs to be produced. Vivaldi might be postponed but certainly not dismissed. According to Seigo, it will make its appearance soon. Also, MPL already has two requests for customized Improv boards. Whether the project's rather unspectacular fundraising effort achieves its goal remains to be seen. Something along the lines of Kickstarter or Indiegogo with the motto "Be part of the good fight and tell your friends" might have been more effective.

We wish Aaron and his colleagues well and will report in detail once Improv and Vivaldi become available. You can learn more about Seigo's odyssey with free hardware in his blog. You can find videos for Improv and Vivaldi on the YouTube Make-Play-Live channel [19].

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