Open hardware: From DIY trend to global transformation in access to laboratory equipment | PLOS Biology

Abstract:  Open hardware solutions are increasingly being chosen by researchers as a strategy to improve access to technology for cutting-edge biology research. The use of DIY technology is already widespread, particularly in countries with limited access to science funding, and is catalyzing the development of open-source technologies. Beyond financial accessibility, open hardware can be transformational for the access of laboratories to equipment by reducing dependence on import logistics and enabling direct knowledge transfer. Central drivers to the adoption of appropriate open-source technologies in biology laboratories around the world are open sharing, digital fabrication, local production, the use of standard parts, and detailed documentation. This Essay examines the global spread of open hardware and discusses which kinds of open-source technologies are the most beneficial in scientific environments with economic and infrastructural constraints.


Equitable Research Capacity Towards the Sustainable Development Goals: The Case for Open Science Hardware

“Changes in science funders’ mandates have resulted in advances in open access to data, software, and publications. Research capacity, however, is still unequally distributed worldwide, hindering the impact of these efforts. We argue that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), open science policies must shift focus from products to processes and infrastructure, including access to open source scientific equipment. This article discusses how conventional, black box, proprietary approaches to science hardware reinforce inequalities in science and slow down innovation everywhere, while also representing a threat to research capacity strengthening efforts. We offer science funders three policy recommendations to promote open science hardware for research capacity strengthening: a) incorporating open hardware into existing open science mandates, b) incentivizing demand through technology transfer and procurement mechanisms, c) promoting the adoption of open hardware in national and regional service centers. We expect this agenda to foster capacity building towards enabling the more equitable and efficient science needed to achieve the SDGs.”

The need for open technology standards for environmental monitoring | by Journal of Open HW | Nov, 2022 | Medium

“The barriers to the uptake of open hardware in environmental monitoring may seem insurmountable: not only is procurement difficult, but expertise is often hard to find and capacity is hard to build in the context of widespread commercialization of the sciences. We have already made some progress, yet not enough to gain the visibility that other open initiatives have in the broader context of Open Science. With the allocation of resources and capacity, there are straightforward ways to address the standardization issues of open instrumentation for environmental monitoring. In the US, with attention to addressing climate change and environmental inequities through initiatives such as Justice40 and legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act, carving out a space for the inclusion of open hardware would be in the interest of an environmental monitoring space that is focused on the advancement of collective agendas towards community and environmental health. To accomplish this, we suggest the following strategies:

Co-design a common space for the generative “un-siloing” for researchers, open hardware developers, and environmental regulatory authorities. The first aim of this common space should be to create a shared agenda with actionable objectives leading toward concrete goals in the near, medium, and long term.
Co-create a certification system for open environmental monitoring hardware that can operate within regulatory systems of environmental governance. Such a system should identify where and how open hardware tools and the resulting data can be used.
Solve the documentation dilemma with standardization efforts for open instrumentation in which updates and new iterations can be easily followed and understood. A collective effort towards providing a repo of open tools, their use and role in environmental monitoring, and where and how data from these tools can constructively be used in environmental governance and management is a must.
Ensure a percentage of research funds are allocated to the maintenance of open scientific technology projects. To help senior scientists support open technologies, point them to the discussion on the return on investment in open hardware.
Common resources and community-building efforts should focus on infrastructure across the open ecosystem, not just a singular tool. While open hardware involves the design and implementation of the material part of environmental monitoring, it is part of a much broader ecosystem of open technologies that involve software, data, and analytic tools. Funding agendas many times segregate infrastructural components, and domain experts focus on their piece of the infrastructure.
Commercialization of the sciences tends to undermine our ability to achieve cohesive, inclusive, and usable environmental governance structures. Looking to open source communities for better practices for research collaboration may allow for common, centralized efforts and agendas to exist while maintaining the autonomy of decentralized projects and organizations….”

CERN publishes comprehensive open science policy | CERN

CERN’s core values include making research open and accessible for everyone. A new policy now brings together existing open science initiatives to ensure a bright future based on transparency and collaboration at CERN.  

Design and development of an open-source framework for citizen-centric environmental monitoring and data analysis | Scientific Reports

Abstract:  Cities around the world are struggling with environmental pollution. The conventional monitoring approaches are not effective for undertaking large-scale environmental monitoring due to logistical and cost-related issues. The availability of low-cost and low-power Internet of Things (IoT) devices has proved to be an effective alternative to monitoring the environment. Such systems have opened up environment monitoring opportunities to citizens while simultaneously confronting them with challenges related to sensor accuracy and the accumulation of large data sets. Analyzing and interpreting sensor data itself is a formidable task that requires extensive computational resources and expertise. To address this challenge, a social, open-source, and citizen-centric IoT (Soc-IoT) framework is presented, which combines a real-time environmental sensing device with an intuitive data analysis and visualization application. Soc-IoT has two main components: (1) CoSense Unit—a resource-efficient, portable and modular device designed and evaluated for indoor and outdoor environmental monitoring, and (2) exploreR—an intuitive cross-platform data analysis and visualization application that offers a comprehensive set of tools for systematic analysis of sensor data without the need for coding. Developed as a proof-of-concept framework to monitor the environment at scale, Soc-IoT aims to promote environmental resilience and open innovation by lowering technological barriers.


This $4,000 Open Source High-Speed Atomic Force Microscope Is a Nanoscale Imaging Marvel –

“A team of scientists from the National Taiwan University, the Technical Universities of Denmark and Munich, and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt has built an open source design for a nanoscale imaging high-speed atomic force microscope (HS-AFM) — buildable for under $4,000.

The version built by Hwu and colleagues comes in at $3,936 in parts. Better yet, it is released under an open-hardware license for all to replicate….”

Bringing Open Science Hardware to the Global Lab Bench

“OpenFlexure is one of many open science hardware projects that are championed by the Gathering for Open Science Hardware (GOSH), a transnational network of open science hardware advocates. Although there are differences in practice, open hardware projects operate on similar principles to open-source software, and they span disciplines ranging from nanotechnology to environmental monitoring. GOSH defines the field as “any piece of hardware used for scientific investigations that can be obtained, assembled, used, studied, modified, shared, and sold by anyone. It includes standard lab equipment as well as auxiliary materials, such as sensors, biological reagents, analog and digital electronic components.” Compared to an off-the-shelf microscope, which may cost thousands of dollars, an OpenFlexure microscope may cost a few hundred. By being significantly cheaper and easier to maintain, open hardware enables more people in more places to do science.

The academic production of open hardware has increased exponentially in the last five years with the emergence of networks, dedicated publication venues, peer-reviewed literature, and thematic events, all aimed at supporting open science hardware projects. Successful projects have led to greater access to equipment, which increases research efficiency, and have fostered equity and public participation in science. However, open hardware is still the exception in science, and the designs of most research tools remain unavailable to their users, which limits their accessibility and adaptability. Encouraging broader use of open science hardware will require funding agencies, universities, and international organizations to cooperate and incentivize researchers to develop and share hardware designs….”

Let us create a globally inclusive dialogue on Open Science Hardware (OSH) standards – AfricArXiv

“Hardware is a vital part of experiments process and advances in instrumentation have been central to scientific revolutions by expanding observations beyond standard human senses.” But making hardware and especially sharing hardware is neither an easy nor a recognized task in academia. In order to tackle this issue, some of us started a Research Data Alliance (RDA) interest group. The RDA is a social platform where international research data experts meet to exchange views and to agree on topical issues. We think the RDA label will bring our work the credibility needed to develop and push our ideas about Research hardware recognition in the scholarly communication ecosystem. On the other hand, we would like to avoid the pitfall of creating a system that would nurture inequalities, and one of our objectives is therefore to grow and diversify the group members and chairs. Here is therefore a call for participation, it is particularly but not uniquely addressed to researchers from low-income countries.

Introducing the openmovement OM10, the First Open Source Watch Movement – Worn & Wound

“It’s often said that watchmaking is a cottage industry. This, in the past, has been literally true. The know-how and technical ability to build watch movements has historically been information that has been pretty well guarded, whether we’re talking about 19th century watch and clock makers working out of their home workshops, producing every component themselves, or the mass production of movements and their individual component parts by large corporations, effectively blocking smaller companies from getting a foot in the door except at a great expense. A new project called openmovement is now taking a different approach to movement making by designing simple, open source watch movements that anyone can conceivably use. ”

Time to Upgrade: A New OpenSPIM Guide to Build and Operate Advanced OpenSPIM Configurations – Girstmair – – Advanced Biology – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  OpenSPIM is an Open Access platform for Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy (SPIM) and allows hundreds of laboratories around the world to generate and process light-sheet data in a cost-effective way due to open-source hardware and software. While setting up a basic OpenSPIM configuration can be achieved expeditiously, correctly assembling and operating more complex OpenSPIM configurations can be challenging for routine standard OpenSPIM users. Detailed instructions on how to equip an OpenSPIM with two illumination sides and two detection axes (X-OpenSPIM) are provided, and a solution is also provided on how the temperature can be controlled in the sample chamber. Additionally, it is demonstrated how to operate it by implementing an ArduinoUNO microcontroller and introducing ?OpenSPIM, a new software plugin for OpenSPIM, to facilitate image acquisition. The new software works on any OpenSPIM configuration comes with drift correction functionality, on-the-fly image processing, and gives users more options in the way time-lapse movies are initially set up and saved. Step-by-step guides are also provided within the Supporting Information and on the website on how to align the lasers, configure the hardware, and acquire images using ?OpenSPIM. With this, current OpenSPIM users are empowered in various ways, and newcomers striving to use more advanced OpenSPIM systems are helped.


The impact of open source software and hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy | Publications Office of the EU

This study analyses the economic impact of Open Source Software (OSS) and Hardware (OSH) on the European economy. It was commissioned by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT. It is estimated that companies located in the EU invested around €1 billion in OSS in 2018, which resulted in an impact on the European economy of between €65 and €95 billion. The analysis estimates a cost-benefit ratio of above 1:4 and predicts that an increase of 10% of OSS contributions would annually generate an additional 0.4% to 0.6% GDP as well as more than 600 additional ICT start-ups in the EU. Case studies reveal that by procuring OSS instead of proprietary software, the public sector could reduce the total cost of ownership, avoid vendor lock-in and thus increase its digital autonomy. The study also contains an analysis of existing public policy actions in Europe and around the world. The scale of Europe’s institutional capacity related to OSS, however, is disproportionately smaller than the scale of the value created by OSS. The study therefore gives a number of specific public policy recommendations aimed at achieving a digitally autonomous public sector, open R&D enabling European growth and a digitised and internally competitive industry.

Study about the impact of open source software and hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy | Shaping Europe’s digital future

This study aims to investigate the economic impact of Open Source Software and Hardware on the EU economy.

Open Source is increasingly used in digital technologies. This required an in-depth analysis of its current role, position and potential for the European economy. Open Source Software (OSS) has become mainstream across all sectors of the software industry over the past decade. Conversely, the level of maturity of Open Source Hardware (OSH) currently appears far lower. However, the business ecosystem for OSH is developing fast. If OSH is to follow the same development as OSS, it could constitute a cornerstone of the future Internet of Things (IoT), the future of computing and the digital transformation of the European industry at the end of the digital decade.

The objective of the study was to investigate and quantify the economic impact of OSS and OSH on the European economy. The study also identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of open source in relevant ICT policies, such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), digitising European industry, the connected car, high performance computing, big data, distributed ledger technologies, and more.

Economic evidence of the footprint of open source in the EU has been collected. A list of policy options to maximize the benefit of open source supporting a competitive EU software and hardware industry, which in turn supports the twin environmental and digital transformation of the EU economy is also proposed.

There are clear signals from investors on the huge value and potential of open source. Policies to maximize the return in Europe of this value may be required. In the short-term, the findings of the study will be used as a basis for policy options in many digital areas. In the long-term, the findings can be used for a new open source policy focused on the EU economy as a whole.

The main breakthrough of the study is the identification of open source as a public good. This shows a change of paradigm from the previous irreconcilable difference between closed and open source, and points to a new era in which digital businesses are built using open source assets. This information is essential to develop policy actions in the field. The study also values the economic impact of open source commitments on the EU economy.

State of Open Source Hardware 2021

“The open source hardware community has exploded since the first Open Hardware Summit in 2010. The community has grown to include an incredibly diverse group of people working on an incredibly diverse set of hardware. From science researchers to musicians, from educators to designers, from multinational companies to local hackerspaces, open hardware has expanded in every conceivable direction.

This resource encourages you to step back and reflect on the growth of the community. It relies heavily on OSHWA’s Open Hardware Certification Program, the annual Open Hardware Summit, and the annual Open Hardware Community Survey to understand how the open hardware community got here and where it might be headed. The Certification Program is a free way for open source hardware creators to confirm to the world that their projects comply with the community definition of open source hardware. The Open Hardware Summit is the place for the entire open hardware community to come together in order to learn, share, and grow. And the Community Survey is a snapshot of how the community has grown around open hardware. While no single resource can capture the full breadth of open hardware, we hope that everyone sees a bit of themselves here. Thank you for being part of the community.”

Open Hardware Distribution and Documentation Working Group: Pyramids versus circles — the need for more cooperative/collaborative business models for OScH | by Journal of Open HW | Jun, 2021 | Medium

“One of the biggest challenges in scaling open science hardware is finding the right business model. It’s a topic that has come up at every GOSH event I’ve been to, and it’s something we as a community need to figure out if we hope to “make OScH ubiquitous by 2025”. I’ve been thinking about this problem deeply over the past 5 years as part of my entrepreneurial journey at Sci-Bots where I’ve been working to commercialize DropBot, an open-source digital microfluidics controller that was the product of my PhD research. Starting a business is hard even in the best-case scenario, but it can be especially difficult when the type of business you are trying to create doesn’t follow the traditional narrative….”