We are all for opening up parts of the firmware in obsolete products, already not supported by the manufacturer in order to:
- re-use, re-cycle and allow more inclusiveness in the digital world
- enhance, include third-world in the innovation cycle
- discover, reward and create opportunities in the second life of our digital gadgets
- allow the electronic crumbs of developed countries to become first dishes in different corners of the world
- keep up with security patches and even
- find a second life for devices as re-purposing their use
We heard the arguments that patents and money were spent in development and for some products it is a viable point but for the majority of the products out there there is a plethora of manufacturing companies and common frameworks used for firmware development. The chips have common architectures and only a few points of differentiation.
There are already people involved in those efforts and I will include links and take a bow for their unsung efforts:
- OpenWRT – wifi routers
- Magic lantern for Canon cameras – https://magiclantern.fm/
- new firmware for old phones or tablets – https://forum.xda-developers.com/
- and one of my favorites – kinect – OpenKinect
Most of the companies are recognizing that “many-heads” effort in software development is accelerating the speed of innovation and put “free-hours” together with freelancers. Until now we just peeked into those efforts but soon we will join them and blog about it.