The Arduino Project democratizes electronics… and allows you to print in 3D


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I just watched Arduino, The Documentary on Vimeo, and I was very impressed. If you don’t know what Arduino is: it’s an open-source electronic platform thas is very simple to use and cheap. I already heard of it reading the book Marke Eigenbau, a German book on the way DIY (do-it-yourself) will change the way we consume. Anyway, Arduino now has a community of 120,000+ people using and improving the device (like Mozilla a couple of years ago… Mozilla just overtook Internet Explorer on the internet browser market), which means it’s getting big !

 

arduino-circuit

The documentary doesn’t show how technologically advanced the object is (it’s simple as hell!), neither does it highlight how visionary the initiators are; the documentary mainly tells us that something has been created that empowers people like you and me to create an electronic device. Today we’re talking a lot about co-creation, which is how companies bring consumer into the innovation and marketing processes to create products and services. The very last think that the company has to do, once it has obtained insights and informations from consumers, it to actually manufacture the product. But what if, tomorrow, we’re empowered enough to manufacture the stuff ourselves ?

adruino-documentaryFor students with only 50$ to be able to plug something into their computer and make something with it […] and iterate it […] and share it… The type of creative community that can engender in young people; that’s gonna change everything [23’58”]

And it’s not only going to deliver creative ways of using technology in a more human and social way, I think it’s also going to give people the freedom to counter the allmighty electronics of today. Very few people – me included – understand how the things actually work.

screen-capture-arduino-documentaryGet them to learn that the consumer side is not the only one. Understand what’s inside and get the control back. Because all these kids have a huge amount of gadgets which they have no idea how they work at all [22’48”]

But more than creating electronic devices, we could go a little further, like Zach does:

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Zach "Hoeken" Smith, co-founder of MakerBot Industries, started from scratch. The company started shipping in April 2009 and sold about 200 machines in 5 months

The documentary indeed illustrates how Arduino can be used to create electronic devices, one of these people is Zach Smith from MakerBot. He built a 3D-printer based on Arduino (though he admits that it was difficult to achieve) and shows particularly well how open-source can be applied to hardware. Here’s where the shift happens: Zach didn’t only create a device he could use; he created a device that can produce nearly everything for him: Lego bricks, vases, shoes, coat hooks…

arduino documentary screen capture

So companies can engage as much as they want with customers to know what they want. But ince these consumers will be empowered to design and produce thenselves what they want… you’ll have the 3D-printing revolution that some people talk about for a couple of years. Download the 3D-file of your coat hook, modify it as you want, and produce it; if you also print the screws and the screwdriver to fix the hook on the wall, you got it ! You completelly skipped the companies that usually produce these different objects. The only thing you need is the 3D-printer… sold by Zach.

Just watch the documentary, it’s only 28 minutes long. Besides, you’d be stunned to know what you can already print: chairs, food, organs… these are just not running on Arduino 😉

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