OSHdata Launches Its Inaugural "State of Open Hardware" Report

Harris Kenny and Steven Abadie's open data platform bears fruit with the first in a planned series of reports on the open hardware industry.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months ago β€’ Hardware 101
OSH certifications have grown year-on-year, bar a dip in 2017. (πŸ“·: OSHdata)

OSHdata, Harris Kenny and Steven Abadie's platform for data surrounding the open source hardware movement, has officially launched with the release of its first report.

"OSHdata findings show that the Open Source Hardware (OSH) community is dynamic, growing, and still in its early days as a formal movement," Kenny and Abadie claim in conclusion of the data they have gathered. "There are over 400 certified projects from 36 countries spanning five continents. The certification rate is increasing, too. Getting from 200 to 300 certified projects took nearly a year, but getting from 300 to 400 took a little over six months.

"Nearly 60% of the certified projects are available for sale at an average sale price of $211.47, though there is a big range here. The leading project categories include: electronics, 3D printing, tools, and education. Our research also finds opportunities for improvement in the certification program itself, particularly the application process and practices by creators."

Much of tha data in the report comes from the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA)'s certification database, scraped on the 7th of February 2020 using a script OSHdata has released. Pricing and commercial availability data were gathered by hand, then the resulting combined data used to answer a series of questions from licensing to the rate of certification and project type.

Perhaps surprisingly, the report found that over half of OSH-certified projects have been commercialised; the bulk of these at a sub-$35 price point. "Nearly one in ten of the projects have a base list price of over $1,000," the report adds, "topping out at a maximum base price of $4,950.

"Several have configuration and accessory options that can bring the price of an Open Source Hardware product even higher. There are instances of configuration options that exceed $50,000. These projects show that high-end equipment and machinery manufacturers are participating in the Open Source Hardware community. These products are particularly oriented towards research and enterprise workflows."

Another interesting finding is that the bulk of OSH-certified hardware projects are licensed in the "other" category, meaning that they did not opt for the OSHWA-recommended CERN or TAPR licences. "Are people mistakenly selecting other licenses, not knowing this distinction," the report asks. "Is there a disagreement over the scope of other licenses and belief that they may in fact apply to hardware? Are there other hardware-specific licenses (beyond CERN and TAPR) that are not captured?"

The report also found recurring growth in the number of OSH certifications, after a decline from the launch spike in 2016 - a trend Kenny and Abadie expect to continue in 2020. The report also named the companies and individuals responsible for three or more certified projects, with Bulgaria-based Olimex by far in the lead with SparkFun Electronics, Field Ready, Lulzbot, and Hummingbird Hammocks making up the top five.

An analysis was also taken of the geography of the open source hardware space: "While the United States is a leader by a long shot," the report explains, "Bulgaria has strong participation and Europe as a whole is worth considering as well. There are also countries that recently had their first certified project, like Turkey, which represent exciting growth and future potential for this community."

The full report is available to read now on the OSHdata website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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