Creative Commons (BY NC SA) licence granted by the authors. First published on June 13, 2011
Last Modified on Mars 02, 2014. Please keep us updated if you adopt this model and make improvements.
By Tiberius Brastaviceanu, Steve Bosserman, Frederic Duville, add your name here
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SENSORICA open labonline and open labonline networks
Reducing physical barriers
sharing experiences in real time through teleproximity
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Reducing physical barriers - sharing experiences in real time through teleproximity.
Tibi at Foulab, a hackerspace in Montreal, 2011
A hackerspace and a fab lab is almost the same thing. We can say that a fab lab is more oriented towards prototyping, and a hackerspace more towards playful experimentation and design. From a governance perspective, they are structured in a very similar way.
Traditionally, a hackerspace and a fab lab are local facilities and constitute local social networks. We can hybridize these concepts with the labonline concept.
Definition: a labonline is physical lab containing instruments that can send data over the Internet in real time and can provide remote real time access to control instruments. This enables individuals (a team of experts with different skills) from different parts of the world to share experiences in real time.
An open labonline network is a network of open physical labs. This network relies on an infrastructure for data storage and exchange (even in real time).
The idea is to build an open labonline network by bringing together different open lab spaces, academic labs and others, via the web.
This section will be updated soon...
The SENSORICA labonline is already a network of small labs, that we need to take online, i.e. to allow members to access them remotely.
To put a physical lab online we can start with webcams to stream visual data (a video mixing program is needed), software to stream data from instruments (microscope, 3D printers, etc.) and to provide remote access to control instruments. See Streaming for the lab document.
Materials: Use a resource management system to list equipment and allow people to see what tools/instruments/material are available, when and where.
Planning and coordination
See resource management tools for scheduling of shared resources (labs, equipment, etc.)
From our experience, governments are not yet ready to fund value networks like SENSORICA. But they are starting to consider funding shared resources for small businesses, in order to foster economic development in the high tech sector.
The value proposition for the government is straightforward. Every startup needs a space and tools for prototyping and to conduct proof-of-concept experiments. Usually, startups ask for grants in order to demonstrate their technology. We are talking here about first stage funding, which is also very high risk. Instead of funding a lab for every startup, the government can fund a few hackerspaces and fab labs. All startups are directed towards these resource centers for their initial needs, which diminishes the initial load on government assistance.
Moreover, hackerspaces and fab labs represent networking centers. People from different startups can meet, exchange ideas, collaborate, etc.
SENSORICA is already an open collaborative space. Some SENSORICA members can become managers and/or technicians for these open labs. Other members form open labs can also become members of SENSORICA.
It is often very hard for small companies to build a state-of-the-art lab. Most of the time companies exchange services among each others at market prices, instead of developing the full spectrum of needed capabilities. The problem is that the market usually sets the prices too high for some services.
For example, I could buy a car, but because I don’t need it every day. It makes more sense for me to use public transportation. I could take a taxi every time I need to go somewhere, which is the equivalent of companies exchanging services at market prices, but I find it too expensive compared to the costs of public transportation. Public transportation is a shared resource, the equivalent of open labs, created and maintained with public funds. There are some inconveniences in public transportation compared to a private taxi, but most of the time they are offset by the low price of public transportation. In some circumstances, where time or comfort of more important than the cost, I do get a taxi. Most of the time I use public transportation.
I believe there are small companies interested in exchanging favors with others at lower costs. The SENSORICA labonline and the larger labonline network we want to build can provide the infrastructure for small entities, companies and individuals, to share resources and to exchange favors at marginal costs. These open lab networks provide an environment in which value could be exchanged outside of the monetary system, in a multi-value system. In my view, this is enough to incentivize small organizations and individuals to populate our open labonline network.
MIT Guide to Fab Labs: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/labs/
Mobile Fab Labs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_fab_lab
From Sam Rose
BTW, have you heard of iRODS and datagrids? If you plan on gathering lots of research data via instruments, and want to create persistant rchives, share and collaborate around the data with others, iRODS is an open source route to doing so (used by space telescope projects, genetic researchers, etc see http://www.irods.org/index.php/IRODS:Data_Grids,_Digital_Libraries,_Persistent_Archives,_and_Real-time_Data_Systems ) I have some connections to people in iRODS project, and our company Hollymead Technical Systems will likely collaborate with others in the region around establishing iRODS as part of a suite of tools and resources for people, companies, educational institutions and others working on open source technologies related to food systems in the coming year.
Immersion interactive see with Imagine 360 (contact person Wael Chanab - wants to collaborate!!).