Open Source Hardware Summit 2014 Roma, Italy


I’ve always wanted to go to OSHW Summit but it was held only in USA and this rises some difficulties for me like having entry visa to visit the country of the unlimited opportunities, so I skipped.

When I learned that this year it will be here in Europe I put it in my calendar for “must visit” events.

I always though this is big event with thousands of people to participate like FOSDEM where around 8-10000 Open Source Software enthusiasts come together, but I was surprised to see it’s a rather small only around 100-200 people were there. For comparison OpenFest the local Open Source Technology Event in Sofia last year had about 3200 unique IPs logged to the wifi routers, so we guess at least about 3000 people from small Bulgaria (population less than NY) attended this local event.

Open Source Hardware is still not so popular like Open Source Software, but do not get me wrong, this is not underestimation of this event, where else you can see on the same place and talk to Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, Jason Krinder and Adrian Bowyer?

The weather in Rome was sunny and nice, food is great, so the organizers picked up the right place🙂

What I found really odd is that the organizers has locked the access to the WIFi at the OSHW Summit with some strange long registration procedure involving you to call with your phone some other phone in Italy in order to “verify” you, well I couldn’t complete this procedure no matter how many times I called this phone, so this really suck. I’m still puzzled why do you close your WiFi access when you make Open Source event and you are in the middle of nowhere (the event was held in big complex of Museo del Musica Auditorium) i.e. in 100-150 meters around you there is no one who could eventually use your WIFI access from outside.

The most remarkable lecture was the one from Mr. Adrian Bowyer – the father of RepRap and 3D printing. This man is real visionary and thinks out of the box. It was pleasure to follow his thoughts of mapping RepRap to Living organism which could reproduce itself. “Bees pollinate plants and help them to reproduce because they have benefit -> Bees get nectar from the plants – we made RepRap which can re-produce itself, but people wouldn’t re-produce it if there was no benefit for them -> they can print objects which is equal of the nectar for the Bees”

One other odd thing is that the lectures were very short and with no time for discussions and interactions on the lecture topics. Some of the lectures were totally out of Open Source Hardware topic (for instance the lecture of two Israeli architects which share how they put on public discussion some of their project which may be related to “open” but not to electronics hardware) and could be skipped to leave more time for discussions to the lectures which were really interesting and could provoke discussions.

In the second summit day there were interesting discussions like: choosing Open vs Closed, which Licensee to choose, Documentation, Education, all of them interesting topics, too bad people were separated in groups so you can’t attend more than one group at the same time while these are all interesting topics to discuss. I will try to post my opinion on these in few blog posts to follow.

So to summarize the Open Source Hardware Summit is very interesting event with great potential. What OSHW does to popularize the Open Source Hardware ideas is great and should keep going.

What I would like to see is such event every year held here in Europe, as traveling at 5000 km and spending EUR 1000 for plane tickets is not within the budged for the many small startups and students I’ve seen this year in Rome coming from Greece, France, Germany etc and who make their first steps in OSHW. I believe the same apply for the US and Asia, so why there is no yearly OSHW Summits to be held in US,EU and Asia?

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bert Vermeulen
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 12:45:49


    To answer your last question: because there is obviously not enough interest by people to attend. If it only attracts 100-200 people in a place as interesting to visit anyway as Rome, 3 conferences a year won’t work.

    Also, the fact that the people organizing and doing presentations often have somewhat irrelevant (or no) links to the open source hardware community doesn’t help: it makes the conference less interesting.


  2. Lucio De Re
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 18:26:48

    if you catch the right vibe, a regular conference can be very profitable, but self-sustaining may be even easier. it could be a luck thing, but olimex may be well advised to try arranging a conference in Bulgaria and see if they can start a success story. It could be fun.

    For my part, I’m in South Africa, so my choice would be Europe, but our economy does not make attending conferences very viable.



  3. Trackback: Olimex is OSHWA member now | olimex

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