Open-source software is old hat. But over the coming years we're going to be seeing more and more open-source hardware projects. Check out this initiative from The Open Prosthetics Project. They're inviting people to share design improvements in artificial limbs. According to Greg Milliken, ceo of Alibre Inc:
The group is basically driving “open source” design. Medical product designers can post new ideas for prosthetic devices as CAD files on the OPP web site, which are then available to the public free of charge. Prosthetic users or other designers can download the CAD data, customize or improve upon the prosthesis, and then repost the new design on the site. Users are free to take 3D models to a fabricator and have the hardware built for less than the cost of buying a manufactured limb.
This open-source initiative could be immensely important. It could help thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. And you can bet that many of them will have the network smarts to take advantage of it.