Beyond Open Source Software

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 27, 2008

Most people think "software" when they hear open source - but there are plenty of other things using open source principles to distribute their intellectual property. We've covered some of these: the OpenMoko phone, the Open Graphics Project, VIA's OpenNote, and even the RepRap self-duplicating machine. But they're just the tip of the iceberg. Here are five more projects that show how healthy open source is beyond the software arena.

The Multimachine is an open source machine tool. Starting with old automobile engine blocks and other salvaged bits, anyone with reasonable mechanical skills and access to some tooling can put together their own combination lathe, mill, drill press, and more.

The Open Prosthetics Project is applying open source principles to the design of prosthetic limbs. They've got a number of active projects on their wiki, and have put together some prototypes.

The Open Source Green Vehicle project is probably the most ambitious of the ones listed here - an attempt to develop a 100MPG hybrid SUV with open design specifications (though with restrictions on building the actual vehicle). It looks as if the project is largely moribund, though.

The OpenStim project wants to build an "open noninvasive brain stimulator." That is, you'd wear this helmet with its magnets and electronics, flip it on, and stuff would happen inside your cranium as a result. They're wiki-based with a fair number of people interested in moving the project forward.

Finally, one for a Friday afternoon: Flying Dog Brewery's Open Source Beer Project encourages anyone to try out their recipe and suggest tweaks and improvements. They're currently soliciting suggestions on how to go about putting together Open Source Beer 2.0.

Do you know of any unusual open source projects that we haven't covered?