Archive for the ‘Open Hardware’ Category

Ubuntu Edge – The largest Crowd-funding experiment in history

Traditionally manufacturers would build a product, stock their warehouses and hope they sell it. “Build it and they will come”, was the norm. A very expensive strategy. Crowd-funding websites have changed this. Start-ups are now able to create a prototype, shoot a video and see if people will love the product without investing any massive amounts of money.

Today is a special day because crowd-funding can change forever. Today Canonical announced the largest crown-funding experiment ever. Where Pebble asked for $100K, got oversubscribed 100 times and ended up getting around $10M, Canonical is aiming for $32M from the start.

So who is Canonical and how will they pull this off? Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu, the most popular open source Linux distribution that runs over 50% of the Operating Systems in public clouds like Amazon AWS.

Canonical will be presenting the Ubuntu Edge, an awesome phone that will push the limits of mobile communication as we know it. It is the first phone that is “your PC in your pocket”. A phone that you hook up to a screen and a keyboard and you can use as a laptop. With 4GB of memory it has similar specs as a laptop. The Ubuntu Edge also has an Edge in usability. Everybody that was able to use the Ubuntu phone operating system will tell you that it is one of the easiest phones out there. Swipe from the left and you have all your most used apps, not only 4. Swipe from the top and you have full control of your Wifi, network, etc. Gone are the days that you had to push: Settings, Wi-Fi, etc. Without lifting a finger you pick your wifi. Right-slide switches between your apps. Bottom-slide gives you an in-app menu that changes based on the current app.

So what about mobile apps. That is exactly the reason why crowd-funding is used. All Ubuntu enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on an Ubuntu Edge. These are the top computer experts in this world. The top Geeks. The people that recompile an operating system kernel for fun. So expect them to come up with apps that push boundaries because the Ubuntu Edge is the only phone that is completely Open: Open Source, Open Hardware and Open Funding. Find more here:


5 hardware trends to watch…

      1. Open Compute

        Open Compute is focusing on creating a new type of server, an open source server based on open source storage, motherboards, racks, data center designs, etc. Instead of proprietary designs, Open Compute makes the design open source. Expect prices for these “commoditized” servers to be substantially lower and ready to enable unseen web-scale data centers. The big driver behind the initiative is Facebook.

      2. Printing everything

        Imprint Energy is a start-up that is putting research of the University of California into practice. By printing batteries they become bendable and can have very thin shapes. A new series of applications are possible that were previously unimagible. 3D printing is probably becoming mainstream in 2013-2014 via manufacturing-as-a-service with consumers buying their first printer in 2014-2015. But also bio printing can allow us to create innovation.

      3. Wearable Tech or Fashion Electronics

        Google Glass, Smart Cloths, Nike’s Fuelband, etc. are all examples of wearable tech. However expect printable batteries to make the tech really flat (cloths) or really small (glasses). This means that we haven’t seen anything yet. Also expect the data explosion of sensor data to also include a lot of “human performance data”.

      4. Miniature Arduino

        RFDuino is a good example of how Arduino’s are shrinking. Open source intelligent miniature hardware will revolutionize many industries, e.g. Jardin & pool computers, bike computers, etc.

      5. FPGAs and other open source hardware

        Mojo is a good example of how not only micro-controllers can be made open source but also FPGAs and other hardware controllers. Due to its parallel processing and multimedia processing capabilities, expect revolutionary products in this domain.

Ford: An API to Your Car

January 11, 2013 Leave a comment

I was expecting the announcement a lot sooner. I made some slides about a similar concept some months ago (I called it the iCar) and presented them to one of the largest car parts manufacturer. Unfortunately car manufacturers have been very slow in adopting new innovations. At least one car manufacturer has entered the 21st century. Ford has created OpenXC, an Open Source hardware and software solution to interact with your car. OpenCX = Arduino + Android + Car Interface. Developers will be able to use their Android to read information from the car. You can read the angle of the steering wheel, vehicle speed, location, accelerator pedal position, brake pedal position, engine speed, odo meter (distance travelled), fuel consumed, fuel level, head lamp status, high beam status, ignition status, parking brake status, transmission gear position, turn signal status, etc.

At the moment you are not able to interact with your car unfortunately. It would be good if OpenCX could offer real interaction. Think about the possibilities of:

1) Parental control apps – my teenage child will not be able to drive more than 120km on the highway and 50km in the city center and I can tell them not to go to certain neighbourhoods.

2) Personalization – my car adapts to me. If I am alone in the car the car radio blasts out hits from the 90s, the motor goes into sportive, inside temperature goes to 21, etc. If my family is present, children music, comfort driving, temperature 22.5, etc.

3) Predictive Maintenance – my car tells me that there is a problem, finds the garage that has the spare parts in stock and schedules an appointment based on my calendar’s availability.

These are just one of many ideas. The main thing is that entertainment, personalization and third-party services will get an enormous boost if open hardware, open software and creativity are allowed to enter your car…

Maarten is currently looking for new challenges as a senior executive, expert in value innovation and using cutting edge technologies to generate new revenues. Contact him at maarten at telruptive dot com.

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