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OpenMoko, makers of the first true open source phone (previously blogged here), have recently expanded the meaning of ‘open source design’ by licensing the CAD (computer-aided design) files for their flagship model, the Neo1973, under a CC BY-SA license. In doing so, OpenMoko not only allow industrial designers a peek inside the Neo1973 to see how it works, but also show a keen understanding of the power community efforts can have in creating a better end-user experience.
Day in and day out, people will be using the Neo1973 for their phoning/PDA needs while simultaneously discovering which design aspects they like and which aspects could be improved upon. Traditionally, these improvements would be stunted at the conceptual stage (“Ah, I wish the backlighting was a bit brighter…”, “These keys could be bigger…”) – in choosing to license the CAD files under a CC license, OpenMoko allows industrial designers to take these gripes and make active improvements upon them, greatly enhancing the Neo1973’s longterm worth by turning frustration into ingenuity. More from Business Wire:
Posted 10 March 2008
Openmoko posted the Neo CAD files on its site without fanfare. Within days, Guillermo Sureda-Burgos (www.sureda.org.), visiting instructor of Industrial Design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, said: “I am amazed at the depth of your commitment to open design. This must be the first time in history that a company has opened its intellectual property to this extent. Openmoko’s revolutionary posting of the CAD files gives a whole new generation of Industrial Design students incredible insight into how it’s done as well as an opportunity to contribute with new concepts.”
Openmoko posted the CAD files at http://downloads.openmoko.org/CAD/ under a ShareAlike Creative Commons license, thereby establishing a community where designers and developers can share concepts about the next generation of Open Source mobile computing devices. Openmoko encourages developers and designers to build their businesses by leveraging the Openmoko FOSS and CAD resources to speed development of new mobile products.
Because of the overwhelming response by developers and industrial designers to the initial posting of the Neo 1973 CAD files, Openmoko has committed to opening the CAD files for the design of the upcoming Neo Freerunner mobile phone before the phone even hits the market.
“Openmoko provides one more key to anyone who wants to unlock the mobile phone. With these drawings, developers and designers will be able to create their own open phone from the inside out,” said Lawrence Lessig, Founder and CEO of Creative Commons. “By releasing the CAD files for the exterior of the phone under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license, Openmoko is unlocking what is a typically closely guarded secret in consumer electronics companies and putting it under a free license so others can build upon their work legally.”