BUG Labs creates open source hardware

Bug Labs, the cross-continental start-up, based in both San Francisco and Manhattan, is set to announce the availability and pricing of its collection of Linux-based, snap together electronic modules that let you build and program your own mobile gadget. It’s like extending the concept of open source from software to hardware.

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Bug Labs, the cross-continental start-up, based in both San Francisco and Manhattan, is set to announce the availability and pricing of its collection of Linux based, snap together electronic modules at the Consumer Electronics Show currently taking place in Las Vegas.

The modules allow people to build and programme their own mobile gadget, extending the concept of open source from software to hardware.

The goal is to make simple, intuitive BUG applications that can discover and work with each other automatically. The BUG software development kit is available for download and BUG applications are share through an online community, BUGnet. A BUG wiki goes into details on getting started.

It could be the kind of company only a geek could love. But in reality it is just as likely to end up reaching far beyond the enthusiastic Linux hackers and gadget mavens that have been driving a growing buzz about the company for much of the past year.

If you wanted a BUG gadget, BUGbase would be the foundation. It is a fully programmable and hackable Linux computer with an ARM1136JF-S microprocessor, 128Mb of RAM, built-in Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 and Ethernet interfaces. Today, there are four BUGmodules that plug into BUGbase: GPS, digital cam/video cam, touch-sensitive colour LCD screen and combination motion sensor and accelerometer.

The BUG smarts are built completely of open source software. The BUG Module Interface logically links modules to the base. Relevant services and applications dynamically become available depending on which modules are plugged in. Higher up the software stack, Java hosts a service-oriented standard framework for dynamic software modules, called OSGi, created by the OSGi Alliance.

According to the BUG website, the company wants people to “recapture and share” the excitement of inventing. “We believe everybody is an inventor at heart, so we've developed a platform for users to create and forever modify their favourite gadget, allowing for ultimate customisation and use.”

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