Openmoko, creator of the first completely open mobile computing platform, expanded the meaning of Open Source by posting the industrial design source files for its Neo branded mobile phones. Industrial design artists now have the same freedom as software engineers. Openmoko’s source code was freed in February 2007, allowing complete transformation of its mobile phone software. Now, by publishing mechanical CAD files, Openmoko frees industrial designers to fundamentally redesign the Neo branded mobile phones to fit their vision and market needs. Some already have.
Inspiring a New Generation of Product Designers
Openmoko posted the Neo CAD files on its site without fanfare. Within days, Guillermo Sureda-Burgos (www.sureda.org.), visiting instructor of Industrial Design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, said: “I am amazed at the depth of your commitment to open design. This must be the first time in history that a company has opened its intellectual property to this extent. Openmoko’s revolutionary posting of the CAD files gives a whole new generation of Industrial Design students incredible insight into how it’s done as well as an opportunity to contribute with new concepts.”
Openmoko posted the CAD files at http://downloads.openmoko.org/CAD/ under a ShareAlike Creative Commons license, thereby establishing a community where designers and developers can share concepts about the next generation of Open Source mobile computing devices. Openmoko encourages developers and designers to build their businesses by leveraging the Openmoko FOSS and CAD resources to speed development of new mobile products.
Because of the overwhelming response by developers and industrial designers to the initial posting of the Neo 1973 CAD files, Openmoko has committed to opening the CAD files for the design of the upcoming Neo Freerunner mobile phone before the phone even hits the market.
Sharing A New Vision of the Design Process
“Openmoko provides one more key to anyone who wants to unlock the mobile phone. With these drawings, developers and designers will be able to create their own open phone from the inside out,” said Lawrence Lessig, Founder and CEO of Creative Commons. “By releasing the CAD files for the exterior of the phone under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license, Openmoko is unlocking what is a typically closely guarded secret in consumer electronics companies and putting it under a free license so others can build upon their work legally.”
The decision to release the files that describe the physical shell of the device was driven by the community of Open Source developers. The goal was to enable changes to the case that go beyond mere cosmetics and address the fundamental needs of specific vertical markets by modifying the phone from the inside out.
“Open Source development encourages contributions from a diverse, imaginative, and creative software community. Unlocking the CAD files for the Neo cases empowers the industrial design community to share and contribute their unique designs,” said Openmoko Head of Developer Relations, Michael Shiloh. “And, with ready access to benchtop CNC machines and 3D printers, people will build these designs, even in single quantities.”
The Neo series of open mobile devices is currently being sold to developers and educational institutions worldwide through Openmoko, the independent subsidiary of Taiwan electronics giant FIC. Dedicated to providing a totally FOSS mobile computing platform for development of mobile consumer electronics communication devices, Openmoko provides the community with the software sources, and now the industrial design drawings, while FIC offers the manufacturing services for the next generation of breakthrough consumer electronics products.
Openmoko is the commercial and community driven effort with a mission to create open mobile products that empower developers and consumers to personalize their devices, much like a computer, in any way they see fit. Openmoko is dedicated to helping innovators bring freedom and flexibility to consumer electronics and vertical market devices.
About Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2001, that promotes the creative re-use of intellectual and artistic works, whether owned or in the public domain. Through its free copyright licenses, Creative Commons offers authors, artists, scientists, and educators the choice of a flexible range of protections and freedoms that build upon the “all rights reserved” concept of traditional copyright to enable a voluntary “some rights reserved” approach. Creative Commons was built with and is sustained by the generous support of organizations including the Center for the Public Domain, the Omidyar Network, The Rockefeller Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well as members of the public.