Open Design and the Internet of Things

4/10/2009 - 11:14

Designer Ronen Kadushin says: "Open Design is a personal attempt to close a creativity gap between product design and other fields (music, graphic design, animation and photography), which found their creative output in phase with the realities of information technology and economics.  The Open Design method is based on the principles of the already successful Open Source method that revolutionized the software industry, and gave birth to a social movement that is cooperative, community-minded and seeks legitimate ways of sharing creativity."
In a world full of connectivity we can not operate in the frameworks of the financial set ups of a capitalism that favours scarcity in modes of production, so we need new business models in the internet of things. One of the areas that seem very promising to quick and dirty experiments and trial and error design is the auto industry.
Eric Hunting describes in his post to the openmanufacturing mailinglist, The Smart Car Ford Threw Away, what could happen if the big manufacturers would team up with the small initiatives in the field:  "Derided compulsively by motorheads of the time, this 1999 Ford concept -which for some reason I cannot recall having ever seen before- could have actually put Detroit on the right foot when they had the chance. Of course, this was the brainchild of a designer outside the car industry so it was doomed from the start no matter how logical it actually was.

This is the single-most practical concept car design I have ever seen. Notice the doors and modular seats on a flat floor deck similar to what I've proposed for the Utilicar OScar concept. I'm also particularly intrigued by the slide-drawer trunk because, though it probably never occurred to the designer at the time, the design seems to anticipate that exact same slide-out drawer scheme being used in front of the car, which would have anticipated the use of electric or true hybrid vehicles with an electric drive train and a modular power plant. Notice also how this designer seemed to anticipate the return of cars like the Mini.

This thing should be a model for OScar projects today. Someone should just take this design as-is for an OScar project and revamp it with a tubular alloy or carbon fiber space frame, recycled polyethylene body panels, and electric drive train with modular power plant. One might even coax the original designer into revamping for a minimum parts count and cosmetically tweaking it just enough that Ford could never gripe about it. The wheel size and wheel based could probably allow use of the current e-Mini wheel-motor units right off-the-shelf. This is a hell of a lot more rational a design than the lumpy micro- supercars with butt cheeks and exotic monocoque bodies the open source car projects have been pursuing so far. This is the real deal. A minimalist car that can adapt to any technology, with the sleekness and charm of an Apple product, and which everyone could actually use. We should claim this for ourselves right now."

Eric Hunting
erichuntingImage [dot] com

See also
Ponoko (from Nathan Cravens to openmanufacturing)