Build Your Own Product with Bug Lab's Open Source Hardware

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by: Design Translator

I’m floored. This is not a trick, nor is it a story out of Star Trek, and best of all its not even a concept. Yesterday, November 01, 2007, Bug Labs launched for the first time to the public, pictures of what to me would be one of the biggest break through in platform product design I have seen to date. I have to say the potential of this product will be endless. Bug Labs, run by some very clever people, has an interesting vision where Peter Semmelhack the CEO explains:

Consumer electronics products come to market today in a way that has not changed in decades. Companies employ smart people who try to divine what the majority of their target customers will want to buy, fund massive market research programs, build expensive production lines, execute huge marketing campaigns and the majority of the time fail to achieve their objectives (see “Innovator’s Solution”, Christensen, “The Change Function”, Coburn).

On Monday, NY Times reporter G. Pascal Zachary wrote an article that succinctly points out where this trend originated – “There is an unbroken line between Henry Ford (with his Model T) and Steve Jobs. The new iPhone similarly reflects the elite, corporate innovator’s drive to find one size that fits many.” It’s an expensive, wasteful model for everyone involved – producers, suppliers, customers and last but not least, the environment.


This product, which I suppose follows along the same lines as the corporate vision, is just called BUG:

BUG is a collection of easy-to-use, open source hardware modules, each capable of producing one or more Web services. These modules snap together physically and the services connect together logically to enable users to easily build, program and share innovative devices and applications. With BUG, we don’t define the final products – you do.

Essentially you first start with a Lego type product (The BUGbase), where by you then mix and match different components (BUGmodules: LCD screen, GPS, Speaker, Teleporter etc.) to build a product that you want or need. This basically throws out of the window the whole marketing problem of consumers asking “Why do I need to pay X dollars more for a feature on a product I don’t need?”.

Wait! There’s more.

The system is smart enough that it would continue to work with each and every new module that comes out. This BUG’s ability to be upgradable and scalable, means complete customization and offers amazing product longevity. I guess I don’t need to highlight the importance of such a product’s (small) impact on the environment and its nod towards fostering sustainable behaviours? Not only that I can imagine the BUG will be a marketers dream as the practice of identifying a target market and/or predicting consumer behaviour will be less important in the equation as mass customization it truly around the corner. We have come very far from our first solution of mass customization, the dinky interchangeable mobile phone covers.

As with many designers, I have played with a modular concept like this for many years and thus this product is very close to my heart. What started as a Teen fashion PDA with interchangeable accessories, my Red-Dot winning Modular Series Home Entertainment Concept is essentially the same idea but centred around audiophile system separates instead. They have succeeded where we have failed. Well done, and by god how I would love to work for a company like this!

Via: The always Crunchy Tech Crunch

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