Best Open Hardware Conferences Coming Up in 2014

By on January 2, 2014

Every now and then when I talk with people, the question about what are the best context for Open Source Hardware companies to show up  we end up saying we need a list. For any given product you’re working on, it’s very important to cross fertilize your thinking and conferences, are a good moment to do this.

At conferences you can catch up with likeminded people that can share precious experiences and lesson learnt with you. Meeting people and listening to them is important for the growth of your projects and for their maturation. Next time you attend to a conference, spend some time setting your objective, do your homework to find out who’s who and what you might be interested in talking about. Just one lucky encounter, that collaborator, that advisor, that potential sponsor or partner could be a critical aspect when saying, in retrospective: “it was a good idea to come here”.

To help you decide where to put your time, money and effort, we prepared a list of the best open source hardware conferences in the world this year. It’s obviously biased from our point of view but it’s a list worth doing: please suggest addition in the comments, we will be adding them!

 

 


 

Conferences are presented in supposed chronological order:

1. FOSDEM

Where: Bruxelles 1/2 February

Website: https://fosdem.org/2014/

Université libre de Bruxelles will host this year’s FOSDEM, the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting. FOSDEM has more than ten years of history and is a essentially volunteer organized and free to attend European event that “offers open source communities a place to meet, share ideas and collaborate.”

It’s a strongly developer-oriented context, where this year hardware has a small dedicated track ( https://fosdem.org/2014/schedule/track/hardware/). As software and hardware merge and componentization rules, I guess that FOSDEM could be interesting to open source hardware folks that understand how open source is a complex thing and involves also software and ecosystems.

 

2. OuiShare Fest

Where: Paris 5-7 May 2014

Website: http://www.ouisharefest.com/

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Now at it’s second year, OuiShare Fest lands again in Paris in the magic athmosphere of the Cabaret Sauvage. Last year’s Fest (the first and Largest European event dedicated to the Collaborative Economy) featured a rather wide Makers and Open Manufacturing  Track (see here). Particularly interesting was the Panel about the future of I had the chance to moderate, featuring Dale Dougherty, Tomas Diez and Peter Troxler. See it here

Last year’s OuiShare Fest also featured the construction of a prototype of a wikihouse, the Open Source House designed and built by Alastair Parvin that we also interviewed few weeks ago.

The program is still not available, but I’m working hard on it together with the team so expect big. A call for participation is expected so register at ouisharefest.com

 

3. THINGS CON

Where: Berlin, May 2 & 3.

Website: http://thingscon.com/

This two-day conference is focused on the future of hardware as a business The international line-up of speakers is good and growing (http://thingscon.com/speakers) and the program “will cover everything it takes to grow a hardware product from prototype to scaling business” according to the organization.

Satellite events and meet complete the program. All this in Berlin, that is showing to be Europe’s top hardware business hub. If you’re up to a hardware business, it may be worth the trip.

 

4. EHSM 2014 Exceptionally Hard & Soft Meeting #2

Where: Hamburg June 27-29 2014

Website: http://ehsm.eu/

This conference is particularly focused on sparkling collaboration between open source and research to “explore new grounds and […] deliver the third industrial revolution”.

Topics varies from advanced physics applications, to chip design, machining and everything related to research.

A call for speakers is still open and can be accessed y the website.

 

5. Open Design / Shared Creativity – FAD Fest

Where: Barcelona June/July 2014 (Dates TBC)

2013 Website: http://fad.cat/congres/en/

Open Design / Shared Creativity festival will be held for the third year this year in June/July 2013. This year, the event was part of a more complex and astounding series of events dedicated to design in Barcelona during the early summer. I had the chance to attend the Barcelona Design Week last year and the city seems really into something with open design. Additionally Barcelona will also host the Fab10 conference this year and it will be in the same period. Stay tuned for updates on the respective websites. Here follows a great speech about Open Design sustainability from Massimo Menichinelli. Lots of great videos.

 

6. Open Knowledge Festival 2014

Where: Berlin 15-18 July 2014

Website: http://2014.okfestival.org/

This year OKFestival (the world’s largest open knowledge event) will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Open Knowledge Foundation.You can get a glance of what the OKFestival means in terms of content by looking at the awesome 2012 Edition. OKFestial is an highly participative context where you can propose content by following the guidelines that will appear along the way on the website and blog.

It’s an event that is widely suggested for those of you more concerned with community dynamics and interested to gain supporters for community projects. Super interesting.

 

7. O’Reilly OSCON

Where: Portland, 22-26 July 2014.

2013 Website: http://www.oscon.com/oscon2013

OSCON is for sure one of the most important open source event of the year. The 2013 edition is wrapped in this amazing youtube playlist here and you can access a lot of great content from that. Last year the convention organized by O’Reilly Media featured a packed Open Hardware track (you can see: http://www.oscon.com/oscon2013/public/schedule/topic/958). 16th year, a five days festival and convention: I think there’s plenty of motivations to be there for everyone involved in Open Source.

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8. Open Hardware Summit 2014

Where: Still to be defined, dates ranging from July 2014 to October 2014

2013 website: http://2013.oshwa.org/

The Open Hardware Summit is the most important international conference that brings together the community that is actively engaged in the Open Source Hardware. Organized by the Open Source Hardware Association, a U.S. non-profit (pending) that promotes the Open Source Hardware since 2010 from the US. The Summit is in its fifth edition and after NY and Boston (MIT) is now for the first time heading to Europe if nothing changes the plan. As you may know will be Co-Chairing it with Addie and news are due soon.

OHSummit has always been focused on Early Adopters, creators and entrepreneurs of open source hardware from the very early editions. This year we want to facilitate the meeting with the pioneers of open source hardware with wider and divers audiences, but you’ll know more soon. Stay tuned on OSHWA Blog (www.oshwa.org) or follow me for updates (@meedabyte).

 

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Last Year’s Summit at MIT

 

About Simone Cicero

Simone Cicero is a blogger (at meedabyte.com), strategist & speaker. Simone is also a long time Open Source advocate and Open Source Electronics editor. Follow him on twitter at @meedabyte