I can assure you that people have great creative ideas to, either solve their problems or make lives simpler, using electronics. Although the ideas are basic in terms of the electronics complexity, they do require some electronics skill, which the layman neither does have, nor wants to gain (for plain fear of failure). These ideas are as simple as timer of appliance, making doors, locks automated and so on.
Though some people do buy hobby kits and make some solutions to these problems on their own, the kits fail over time and cause discomfort and prevent further such building activities. This is another area of concern for electronics, i.e. rugged design, the first one being 'what to design and how?'. Electronics are easily prone to failure, keep them away from water, heat, dust... My aim is to address these two issues in my cake shop.
I wrote about open source hardware a few posts back, which is the essence of it all. I can't on my own develop even 1% of the hardware that is required by my fellow men and some self initiative on their part or my fellow electronic engineers is required. But I wish to make their task simpler, with the help of open source hardware. In the broad sense it works like this:
- The good ideas of laymen are converted to electronics projects.
- The design aspects are correctly studied and human-device interaction is given preference over variety and features. The second preference is given to stability of design and identification of possible failure areas, right in the design stage. Though this adds a considerable time to the design, it is essential to build the trust of people into the designs.
- Prototype of the project is developed. The prototype is given to the user conceptualizing the idea.
- The idea (along with possible application areas) and the project is made open source under GPL and credited jointly with the person who first came up with the idea. This gives a sense of belonging and proud to the user and inspires him to promote the product himself.
- The project is given a forum for user-to-user interaction to promote it ahead. And most importantly coming up with modification(or modification thoughts) and alternate uses, again going by the theory that people are more creative than the electronic makers.
Another thought is giving users some thoughts on already existing open source hardware and allowing them to change is to their specific needs and/or region. This promotes the other open source hardwares and allows spread of ideas.
I'm currently working on a project which is on the same lines, and hope to soon setup a site to get all the data in some place.
Ah! if you ask the question- what if people steal the ideas and make those products and make lot of money?
WELL, it's good. That's open source is all about right? But yes, new ideas keep coming in and still the part of building custom solutions and coming up with new solutions remains with-in our hands.
Well, please do share your thoughts on this. Both laymen and geeks are most welcome to share their thoughts and criticizes the above thoughts.