From Idea to Product: Open Source Hardware
What is it?
How to do it
Have an idea for a scientific or industrial instrument, or an electronic device or gadget you would like to buy, but which does not exist yet?
- Put ideas which you would like to discuss into the New Ideas Forum
- You don't need the technical knowledge to know how it will work, you need only say what it should do
- There are no fees at all for the use of the forum
- Tell your friends
- Collaborate with others on our New Ideas Forum to develop the idea and make it more popular
- If we think it is possible to make it, and enough people want it to make it financially feasible, we will make it
- Look at our home page for a list of some of our capabilities
- Anyone can bid for as many units as they want; you may pay a lot less than you bid, on a popular project
- The more we sell, the less it will cost you. Spread the word!
- You can see the price drop as demand grows. Look at the price curve on the related project page
Post your ideas
We design it
Here's how it goes, stage by stage
IdeaAn "Idea" emerges as a new topic on the Forum. You or any forum member can start a new "Idea". Forum registration is free, and reasonably unintrusive. Post a description of what you would like the device to do. You need no technical knowledge of how it might work - our moderators will help with that.
We won't consider ideas for weapons, covert surveillance gear, or other socially undesirable items, at our sole discretion.
Acceptable ideas show up in the Index, from this point on, giving links to all related information.
We will never sell or otherwise distribute your registration information.
ConceptFor an "Idea" to move to a "Concept" - it needs to be technically feasible, and not be too similar to something which already exists. Forum discussions should have enough details about the desired function to move forward. Our implementation team will then put up a draft specification page. This is still flexible; you can comment and ask for modifications.
We may put up draft price curves in this stage. These curves will change as the specification evolves. Don't look on them as a commitment on our part.
BiddingOnce the specification settles down, our implementation team freezes the specification and advances to the "Bidding" stage.
Bidding is open to anyone.
Our implementation team puts up a firm price curve, showing how the price per unit will vary with the quantity produced. At small quantities this is dominated by development and certification costs. As quantities increase, unit cost becomes dominant, and there are economies of scale. Go to our price curve page for a detailed explanation of how this works.
You can bid on as many units as you wish, at any price you wish. The state of bidding is shown, anonymously, on the price graph. Bidding is a commitment to buy a given number of units at a price not exceeding the bid price, if the project proceeds to production. Cumulative bid statistics show up in your forum profile, which anyone can read.
ProjectWhen the bidding intersects the price curve, we have a financially viable product. There is enough demand that we won't lose money. Now we have a "Project", and implementation commences.
During this phase you can continue to bid, helping to reduce the price for yourself and all purchasers.
As development progresses we may find that we have to revise our estimated price curve. If we have to revise upwards, you will have the opportunity to revise, or cancel, your bid. We will try to avoid doing this, but we are not immune to surprises.
Our implementation team now puts up a progress page to show how the development is progressing. The goal of development is a working prototype, which meets or exceeds the specification in all respects.
ProductWhen "Project" development produces a working prototype, we have a "Product".
Now bidding is frozen, establishing a price. If you have bid on the product, you will be notified by email of the final price. If you bid at or above the final price, you will be asked for confirmation (with credit card number) or cancellation of your bid. You can choose to let us charge your card right away, at a decent discount, or not charge until we ship your order. We will email you when your order has shipped
If you have bid less than the final price, we will still notify you by email, and you may decide to buy at the final price if you wish.
Bidding will have to re-open if there are enough cancellations to impair viability. Production will start only when there are enough confirmed orders.
A shipping page will be put up to keep you informed of production progress and shipping dates. We ship first to those who chose to pre-pay.
We will put up a fresh price curve when we freeze the bidding. Our first production run will cover the confirmed orders. There is a cost to setting up a new batch, so we need to ensure that a second batch can be sold without loss. When the second and subsequent rounds of bidding justify further production, we will make and ship further batches.
Incentives: the GoodiesProvided an Idea makes it all the way through to production:
- The originator of the Idea may opt to have their name, and/or their email address, permanently labelled on every item produced. If we think your contribution to the development of the concept was important, we might give you the option too.
- The originator of the Idea gets a "My Idea made a CoDesign Product" T-shirt. If we think your contribution to the development of the concept was important, we might send you one too.
- First bidder to bid above final price is guaranteed to receive serial number #1, a collectible item.
- We ship first to those who chose to pre-pay, then to those who chose to pay on shipment. Within each category, higher bidders ship first, even though all pay the same price.
- Items shipped to first-batch bidders will carry a label showing that they sponsored the product.
Gotchas: the fine print
- Once you discuss an idea on the forum, it is public, and thus not patentable
- We retain all rights to ideas discussed on the forum. We must do this, in order to licence those rights as an open-source project.
- We pay no royalties or other payments to the originator(s) of an idea, or to anyone who helps develop an idea in the forum.
- On the other hand, we charge no fees to the originator(s) of an idea, or to anyone who helps develop an idea in the forum. In this we are different from sites such as Quirky
- There is no guarantee of timeliness. We will tackle projects in order of acceptance to the "Project" stage, and move them along as fast as we can in an economical way. In particular, to sell to the public a device must be certified by an independent laboratory, a costly and time-consuming step which we cannot schedule
- There is no guarantee that first or subsequent batches will be made; it depends on bidding. If you really want one, bid early
- Everything is an experiment - we will probably fine-tune the way this works as we go along. If there are things you think we should change, tell us on the Forum
- We reserve the right to reject any idea we think is undesirable, and to remove such ideas from the forum, without giving any reasons
- Supply of goods will be subject to your local laws, and the laws of Canada and the Province of Alberta. If we use components from the U.S., their export restrictions may apply
- If you choose to prepay, then change your mind before we ship to you, we will give you a full refund on request
Things may change
Not what you need?
If you need a patentable project, to develop your own product, or to retain intellectual property, this is not for you. We offer these services separately, contact us privately with your needs.