Factor e Farm has been the main development site for the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), after we settled here in 2006 and built our first machine in 2008. (As an aside, we coined the term GVCS in 2008 for a presentation at the University of Missouri, Columbia.) We’ve been doing all the field-testing at Factor e Farm until now and sold some of our prototypes to early adopters after our production run of 2012. Since then, there has been a total of 16 unique prototype replications in 5 countries (some recent, not shown in graph). You can see the history of machine deployment here (click edit to access the links embedded in the graph):
We are now turning to Pilot projects as the main way to provide the thousands of hours of field-testing necessary to take the machines to adoption, not only by early adopters but mainstream users. While we will continue to do initial testing at Factor e Farm, pilots will serve as the main route to obtaining performance and feasibility data under real world conditions. This is desirable because first, we’ve gained confidence that at least one of our machines works well enough to allow this, and second, it allows Factor e Farm to focus on research and development.
To foster adoption to scale, we are in the early stages of developing an open source technology transfer protocol in collaboration with Everywhere Tech and the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). OSE is collaborating with OSHWA to produce an Open Source Hardware Documentation Handbook that is intended to standardize documentation practices for open source hardware. We will adopt the documentation standards to OSE work, and by including semantic tagging, the goal is to allow any open source hardware project to contribute to a common pool of documentation.
Discussions on the Haiti Project
I was in Haiti this past weekend on the invitation of Carlos Miranda Levy of Relief 2.0 to participate in the Relief 2.0 Sustainable Recovery Panel, marking the third anniversary of the 2010 earthquake. Ecole Supériore d’Infotronique d’Haïti (ESIH), a leading IT and Management university in Haiti hosted the event in collaboration with Stanford University Peace Innovation Lab. My presentation was on the GVCS and I met with a number of local stakeholders while in Port Au Prince – watch a brief interview with Patrick Attié of ESIH:
The short of it is that we are pursuing a microfactory to build tractors in Haiti.
Imagine Haiti emerging as a global leader in open source hardware. In fact, Haiti is on to a good start with open hardware. The Haiti Rebuilding Center wing of Architecture for Humanity – a non-profit, open source ‘hardware’ organization which designs open blueprints for buildings – has revenues of $3 million. Globally, Architecture for Humanity has revenues of $10 million, from producing open source blueprints and design services for clients. This already makes Haiti a world leader in the rising open source hardware field. As a comparison SparkFun Electronics the largest open source hardware producer has a revenue of $15 million.
Several on-the-ground players came forth: local engineers, fabrication facilities, schools, funders, agronomists, IT support, management support, and community economic development organizations. This was quite an emergence, and it would be good to raise matching funds from US foundations to add to this locally-driven initiative. There is potential here to use the LifeTrac and Power Cube as pilots for local production. So we can pursue building, deploying in agriculture, and having the president cut the ribbon on a successful project. Then we can discuss scaling the pilot into the production phase. I think we can leverage this as an opportunity to take LifeTrac to the next level of design review and performance, while creating a life-size Makeblock for applications that meet pressing needs.
Sure, there are many hurdles on the way but for now, onwards with this plan! At the very least, we will produce thorough technology transfer documentation and a definition of the basic microfactory model to make this happen.