Innovation

Bug Labs: It's about open-sourcing hardware

Bug Labs, a start-up from New York City, hopes to bring the goodness of open source to hardware with a modular device that users can customize to their own specifications.

Bug Labs, a start-up from New York City, hopes to bring the goodness of open source to hardware with a modular device that users can customize to their own specifications.

At the core of Bug Labs business model is a hardware appliance called the "Bug." About the size of an iPhone, the Bugbase device is a fully featured Linux PC (IT Management) with ports that allow up to four modules to be fitted in place.

An excerpt from Technology Review:

Bug Labs CEO, Peter Semmelhack, says that the Bug's design was inspired by the Lego set. Users, he says, should be able to snap pieces in and out without worrying about the device freezing up, and the pieces should be attractive and fun to play with. To that end, the company has developed the Bug module interface, open-source software designed to recognize modules when they are snapped into ports, keep the system from crashing as modules are plugged in or unplugged, and respond to the different power-supply needs of different modules.

The concept of open-sourcing hardware itself is not new. Similar initiatives have failed (DigiDave) to make a big mark on the masses, due to the wide-scale impracticality of hardware hacking. However, Bug Labs hopes to make a mark by following the modular approach and making different components for the Bugbase available in the market over a period of time.

Will this hardware adaptation of open-source concepts force businesses to rethink their hardware strategies?

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