For the past year, I've been subscribing to the Linux Journal, and the August 2008 issue is one of the best I've seen for any magazine. This issue is devoted to "cool projects" (on Linux).
This is a pretty big deal to me, someone who isn't very focused on hardware development but loves programming. Why? First, this issue provides information on how to use the Wiimote as an input device. This isn't anything majorly new, but it's nice to have a step-by-step guide.
Secondly, there's an overview of Bug Labs' Linux computer, which is a basic cellphone-sized computer which you can attach other modules to, allowing you to build new gadgets and even swap them as the software is running. If you have a few hundred dollars to spend, this is a great way to start fooling around with gadgets -- or so I read.
A more familiar face in the magazine is gumstix, which provides very small computers with various components, such as Bluetooth, wifi, USB connections, and so on. This is very similar to Bug Labs, and in fact the costs are about the same, too.
Finally, there's E-Ink, which one can use for low-power displays. This is very promising, though the prototyping set costs $3000, which I imagine is a bit steep for most
The great thing about these tools is how it may be possible to use them and build completely new gadgets. For someone like me, who isn't well-versed in hardware development, this is a great opportunity to get involved in actual prototype development rather than just making graphics and writing code on my laptop.
Even better is the fact that companies like Bug Labs are starting to really promote and focus on the idea of open hardware. I'm curious to see how long it takes for people to start playing around with this. Hopefully I'll get into it too, sometime soon.
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