Some years after the State promoted the use of open source software in various spheres of service delivery as well as education, the seeds of an open hardware movement in Kerala have been sown.
The Open Hardware Initiative Kerala, a State-wide programme launched by the Department of Electronics and Communications at the College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET), aims to promote open hardware-based design among engineering students across the State.
Similar to open source software, for which the original source code is free and may be redistributed and modified, the ‘source code’ for open hardware, which includes schematics, blueprints, logic designs, etc., is available for modification or enhancement by anyone under permissive licences.
Easy to get
The physical design of the electronic hardware could also be altered. The components of open hardware should be easy for users to obtain.
As part of its golden jubilee celebrations, the department has organised an open hardware workshop with the support of International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an autonomous institution under the State government.
Jiji C.V., Head of the Department, said the difficulty in providing electronic hardware for all students of the branch, mainly owing to the costs of proprietary components, had been impeding the proper dissemination of knowledge in the topic.
“By imparting know-how to assemble open hardware, students will gain a deeper understanding of the field and also have an interest towards designing objects based on open hardware platforms. Such an endeavour could also bring down our dependence on proprietary products as had been the case of software following the free and open source software movement,” he said.
CET Principal J. David said the programme would achieve its target if the 60 participants succeeded in propagating the importance of open hardware in their respective institutions. In the later stages, the college aims to expand the initiative by partnering with other engineering colleges, non-government organisations and companies.
In an attempt to garner support for the movement, the department has also created a Facebook page for the Open Hardware Initiative Kerala.
With over 65 followers currently, the page is expected to enhance networking among engineering students and others who were interested in the initiative.