In the late 90s and early 2000s, the availability and maturity of open and free stack of web technologies greatly reduced the barrier of developing web-based software. Most of today’s big web companies were built on an open stack, including sites such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter and others that created amazing value from open-source technologies.

We’re now seeing the same thing happening with hardware – with Open-Source hardware becoming widely available at commodity prices. This change allows for a much greater pace of innovation and iteration in a field that typically required much more specialized skills and larger R&D budgets than software ventures.

One such hardware project is the Arduino, the Open-Source computer board, which has been used in many recent hardware ventures for quick prototyping and delivery of hardware products. We talked to Marcus Schappi, one of the founders of Microview – a chip sized Arduino with an OLED display – to hear his thoughts about the upcoming opportunities in hardware products. Microview is being funded on Kickstarter and has already raised close to half a million dollars – 20 times the original funding goal. A recap and the full audio interview are below:

1. Electrical Engineer Not Required

Accessibility of Microcontroller platforms like the Arduino removes complexity of embedded programming. Previously you needed electrical engineers and embedded-systems programmers to get a hardware project off the ground. Thanks to boards like the Arduino and iterations like Microview, software developers can now see the physical manifestation of their hardware ideas come to life.

2. Arduino in the Big Leagues

No longer just a hobbyist tool, Arduino based hardware is now being used to build commercial consumer products. There are quite a few Open-Source hardware projects being funded on kickstarter. To date Marcus’ team have raise millions in pre orders for various projects on Kickstarter, showing not only viability but also demand for Open-Source hardware products.

3. Example use-case – Education.

It’s hard to predict the future and really, the sky is the limit with innovation in this space. For projects like Microview, Marcus sees two immediately obvious options: One being education – Microview really helps visualize what is going on inside the chip with its built-in OLED display, which is also fun to play with – making it ideal for getting students interested in engineering. Two, hobbyists now have access to a complete out the box Arduino device to hack on and explore, reducing overhead and opening up the range of options available to them.

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