Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

To understand the current capacity and future potential for low-cost hardware to accelerate science and broaden participation in scientific research

  • Amount $650,001
  • City Washington, DC
  • Investigator Anne Bowser
  • Year 2019
  • Program Technology
  • Sub-program Exploratory Grantmaking in Technology

This grant funds a project by Anne Bowser, Director of Innovation at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, to conduct a comprehensive review of the use of low-cost, including open source, hardware in scientific research. Open hardware refers to the licensing of the design specifications of a physical object in such a way that the described object can be created, modified, used, or distributed by anyone. Open hardware sensors or other instruments present an attractive opportunity to expand the frontiers of scientific research by dramatically lowering the costs of instrumentation. Despite this promise there is, as yet, no comprehensive account of the full range of low-cost and open source hardware solutions; how hardware is being used by researchers and public policy communities; what, if any problems have arisen for those using open hardware related to data quality, governance, and standards; and what institutions and norms are needed to encourage adoption. Bowser and her team will conduct a wide-ranging review of low-cost hardware and the open hardware movement, combining broad landscape synthesis and convenings with commissioned reports on critical issues like data quality, governance, and the relationship between open hardware and other open paradigms.

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