HP has spent the last year or so, as the new owner of the WebOS mobile operating system, alternately making arbitrary decisions about the platform's future and making sure to not release any nice hardware for it. After the company ignominiously shut down WebOS for good this summer, we thought that was it for the best smartphone platform nobody used--but today, HP surprised us with an announcement that WebOS will be going open-source.
A recent post over at MAKE set forth the call to companies: If you're going to kill a product or product line, make it open source! That way the ever-resourceful hacker and modder communities can really sink their teeth into a product that wouldn't be generating any profit for the company anyway. We've got a list of six ahead-of-their-time, awesome gadgets that were killed too soon--gadgets that could be capable of some amazing stuff if opened to the right people.
By Geeta Dayal
Posted 07.30.2010 at 11:11 am 7 Comments
Imagine being able to examine anything you want, at the atomic level, in your living room. If Sacha De'Angeli gets his way, a scanning tunneling electron microscope -- currently just the domain of research labs -- will be something you can order off the Web, as an easy-to-assemble, open-source kit, for about $1000.
Google is reported to have spent millions of dollars on its Street View project. Roy Ragsdale, a student at West Point, has done a pretty nice job of putting together a portable panorama camera setup that includes GPS and Google Earth file output for under $300, using exclusively open source tools.
Photography has made countless technological leaps since George Eastman drew up the patent for his innovative roll film technology, and even since the first digital cameras hit the market. But in large part, photogs have been tethered to the innovations and technologies made and doled out by a handful of companies. But Stanford computer science professor Marc Levoy and graduate student Andrew Adams are looking to change that by creating an open-source digital camera, dubbed "Frankencamera."
It takes a village to raise a robot. At least, that's the belief of the creators of iCub, a humanoid robot the size of a 3-1/2-year-old child, who are making its development entirely open-domain.
The iCub is the brainchild of a group of European universities led by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa, who have been charged by the European Commission to develop a functioning humanoid child. They developed a 2-1/2-foot-tall, 70-pound robot child with 53 mechanical joints that allow it to move its head, neck, arms, fingers, eyes and legs. It can also feel with its fingertips, grip with its hands, and listen.
Think of the Acceleglove as a socially-acceptable Power Glove for adults. Laced with acclerometers on each finger, the glove comes with an open source SDK that allows for it to control virtually anything--provided you can write the code for it.
Adobe lifts the licensing fees and opens its powerful program to all developers
By Matt Ransford
Posted 05.05.2008 at 1:27 pm 3 Comments
Adobe has announced that it will be lifting licensing fees for Flash to developers working on mobile applications as part of its new Open Screen Project. The goal is to bring more rich content to phones across a standardized platform. Flash is already ubiquitous in Web browsers, so the available content on the net is mature and widespread. Currently, phones use a disparate variety of software to power video and games; rarely has the feedback been overwhelmingly positive about a mobile experience with either kind of media.
Infighting and changes to the program's philosophy continue to plague OLPC
By Matt Ransford
Posted 04.22.2008 at 10:53 pm 1 Comment
The ambitious One Laptop per Child program continues to flounder. OLPC's cornerstone XO laptop, which was widely lauded when it was functionally revealed in 2006, has still failed to reach its original price point of $100. Currently selling for $188 and achieving a narrower distribution than initially intended, the machine has yet again run into problems. Last week, Walter Bender, long the second in command on the project, left the group apparently out of disagreement over a significant internal shift in goals and direction.
AIM gets closer to open source with an updated platform for developers and third-party clients
By Matt Ransford
Posted 03.12.2008 at 3:48 pm 1 Comment
AOL last week finally opened its hugely popular AIM chat network to multi-client third-party access. The SDK had been partially open to developers, but with restrictions against using it with multi-network IM clients. In the past, developers behind popular chat applications like Trillian and Adium have had to reverse engineer or otherwise hack their way around using the AIM network.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.