Open Source Modular Design for the Circular Economy: The Business Benefits

When we talk about the circular economy, we often talk about encouraging materials cycles, similar to those in nature. This analogy works great for materials recycling but, breaks down if we think about modular design. We can’t remove the branches of a tree, and rearrange them to make two smaller trees. But with modular design of technology, facilitated by an open source approach, we could do the equivalent – and it could lead to a new way of doing business.

In product design, practitioners aim for design for manufacturability. In high value products, we may design for serviceability. When it comes to the circular economy, we need to design for reusability. That is, the ability at the end of the service life of a product, to disassemble it into useful parts that can be directly reused in another product.

A simple example from today’s products would be

Scenario: Life in the Year 2100

Energy and Living Well

Life in the year 2100 is all about energy. No, that’s no longer true. It’s about living well.

We had to completely reinvent civilization in the face of fossil-fuel shortages and increasing climate change. Permaculture become the basis of our new sustainable civilization.

Housing looks familiar, if a little fatter with all the insulation that was added. The retrofit passivhaus concept went global as energy prices rose. These days, excess energy is very expensive, but for most people it just doesn’t matter. Most communities are locally self-sufficient. Everyone grows food using permaculture principles. Agricultural monoculture became deeply unfashionable during the great GM disease outbreaks of the 2030s.

During the chaos, we were

Reality in all it’s forms

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from March 31st, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Virtual Reality

A Rollercoaster Simulator on the Oculus Rift

There’s an open source system for VR gaming

Augmented Reality

Google glass – not dead yet.

Navigation

LayAR

Mixed Reality

Microsoft Hololens

and you can even try for yourself with the iPad Ikea catalogue

Digital Cinema and a Film Festival

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from March 17th, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Digital Cinema

Festival du Film Vert

The DCP – or Digital Cinema Package is the format that cinemas play – it’s a lot better than DVD and even blu-ray! Count on a 2k (like HD) movie taking between 75-160 Gigabytes and a 4k (like ultra-HD) movie taking up to 600 GB.

Professional kit for making DCPs is expensive, but fortunately for festivals like mine there’s great open source software for making DCPs for your local cinema!

Open DCP

DCP-O-Matic – this one is brilliant as you can cluster together computers to reduce encode time. With this software I went from 3 days to 7 hours to make a DCP.

The film festival starts today, hope to see you there. If not, see you next week on WRS!

Robots!

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from January 27th, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Our list of Pangloss Labs events so you won’t miss our next robot workshop

The Open Source (hardware and software) Thymio robot from EPFL and it’s programming environment

The NAO robot

and the much more serious and large ATLAS robot from Boston Dynamics:

And one of my favourite French open source robot projects, InMoov:

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Have a good week, and remember that according to the original Terminator movie humanity should have been destroyed by now, so we are definitely not in that future.

Building Open Source Hardware

Building Open Source Hardware is a very very practical reference guide on the nuts and bolts of going from a maker project to a growing business.  Alicia has brought together a great description of the state of the art.

She doesn’t have all the answers yet – no-one does. But this book is the start of an enormous change in the way we make things. Turning the open source hardware movement into a radical open source decentralised manufacturing system.

 

Pangloss Labs – Open Innovation for Grand Geneve

Pangloss Labs is a centre of expertise in open source hardware, software and most importantly ideas and techniques.  Currently both a French association and a Swiss association, run by entrepreneurs, we hold experimental (hardware, software and social entrepreneurship) labs, and prototype innovation activities across various sectors.

For more information check out our web site.

Ecological-FabLab in the Geneva region

Dream, Build, Repair, Learn, Share

My main project right now is the creation of an ecologicalfablablogo Fablab here in the Geneva region.

“Fab Labs give people the tools they need to create technology and make (almost) anything”

Professor Neil Gershenfeld – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Eco-Innovation is at the cutting edge of the third industrial revolution.  When you combine innovations in energy production with the open source hardware movement you create very low cost & high value technologies.

We are building a creative space to stimulate local innovation.  We dare to dream big, start small and grow fast. This has become Pangloss Labs. If you’re interested in joining us, take a look at our web site

Post Tenebras Lab – the Geneva Hackerspace

A diverse group of geeks, engineers and hackers got together back in 2009 by asking the question online “is there a kind of makerspace in Geneva?”. Eventually we found each others emails archived online and decided to meet up. After several sessions in Les Brasseurs it was decided to form an association to try to create a physical space in Geneva for such a space. The Post Tenebras Lab association was born. Like many in Geneva it took us a LONG time to find a space, but PTL opened it’s doors in May 2012, and has held open evenings every Tuesday ever since. You’ll find more details at the web site, but everyone is welcome – just be aware that Post Tenebras Lab is a DO-OPOLY. i.e. if you want something done you have to do it 🙂

And no, a hackerspace is not where the bad guys meet to drain your bank account, it’s where the good guys meet up to make stuff, or hack it into shape – whether this be electronic, physical, mobile app or anything. Just come along on a Tuesday to find out for yourself.