Jee Labs is an open source shop – both open source hardware and open source software.
Nothing earth-shattering: I’m exploring what’s possible in the domain of physical computing, and have been focusing on simple ATmega-based wireless sensor networks for in and around the house. A simple variation on the Arduino theme, really. In fact, it’s pretty hard not to be compatible with an Arduino when your stuff is based on the same Atmel AVR chips. Because in terms of basic functions and software, an Arduino is (at least right now) essentially simply an ATmega on a board. Plus a serial port boot loader.
This “computing stuff tied to the physical world” is a lot of fun. And a lot of work.
There’s a substantial amount of software required for all this, from dealing with wireless to collecting, storing, and presenting measurement data. And that’s just going one way – to also robustly (and securely) control things in the house, there’s also this whole field of domotics to go into.
I love doing software development. I spend most of my time on it.
And with Jee Labs involved in both OSH and OSS, there is finally a way to dedicate all my time to this stuff.
It’s a very simple mechanism: the hardware side funds the software side.
Does that make Jee Labs a commercial undertaking? Yep. Small shop, but it’s about as direct as it gets:
Stuff sold => food on the table => hunger gone => happy coding.
So I’m hired by the shop to do the hardware and software side of things. As long as there is funding, I get to spend all my time on this stuff. All of it in the open, described on a public weblog, and with all designs usable by anyone to do whatever they like with it. Try it out, hack it, extend it, rip it apart, get rich with it, or ignore it – it’s all up to you. There’s nothing to steal, because your gain is not my loss. On the contrary.
Quite a few people have already done things like take the RF12 driver (software) and use it with their own hardware designs. Many others are taking some sensors (hardware) and tying it into their stuff with their own software. Cool – way cool, in fact. Hardly a day goes by without something encouraging or rewarding happening on some front.
The trick is sustainable funding. Which means I need to stay on the ball, and figure out what others would like to see from me. That’s good – normal market economics, really. There’s a lot of uncharted terrain, still waiting to be discovered, explored, and turned into projects and products. Just gotta look, listen, and keep moving. Which is a lot easier when everything is out in the “open” – hardware, software, … and ideas.
This concludes my mini-series on Open Source. It’s time to return to the techy stuff again!