Bug Labs is a start-up company in New York that is creating what they call “open source hardware.” The company is creating a Lego-like hardware platform that tinkerers and engineers can use to create their own digital devices. The idea is to take advantage of “long-tail economics” that will allow the creation of very specific, niche hardware devices for limited markets. The platform can also be used for rapid prototyping.
It starts with a BUGBase, which is a general-purpose Linux computer about the size of a PlayStation Portable, encased in white plastic. This has four connectors that plug right into the motherboard. The company will also make a variety of modules that can plug into the computer—like an LCD screen, a digital camera, a GPS unit, a motion sensor, a keyboard, an EVDO modem, and a 3G GSM modem. (There are also places to add USB, Ethernet, WiFi, and serial ports). Bug Labs is planning on making 80 modules over time, and hopes outside companies and developers will create their own.