Mashable Hardware

December 29th, 2007at 09:15pm Posted by Eli

Well, now you can!

Early next year, Bug Labs, a startup based in New York City, will begin selling the Bug, a powerful but highly malleable base unit and a series of add-on modules that allow buyers to create their own consumer electronics device.

Think of them as Legos for adults who are tired of having limited gadget choices and want to make their own hardware as easily as they now mash up Web sites and write their own software.

“The idea for the company sprang out of my own frustrations with the consumer electronics business,” said Bug Labs founder and chief executive Peter Semmelhack, who describes himself as an inveterate tinkerer who yearns to pull back the screens and experiment with the innards of today’s gadgets.


The device builder begins with the BUGbase unit, a highly modular computer with room for four attachments. Four such attachments will hit the market at first: a full color LCD touch screen, a GPS unit, a digital camera and a motion detector/ accelerometer.

The company says that over 80 BUGmodules are in development and every three months it will release four new ones, like a credit card reader, hard drive, compass, RFID scanner, TV tuner and solar panel. The company will also publish the devices’ open source specs and allow anyone else to build and sell their own module.

Bug customers are expected to do the rest. For example, Mr. Semmelhack said, someone could combine a radar detector, GPS and wireless modem modules together and put the device in their car. Every time it detects a police radar trap, the unit could post that information to an online map and share it with the world.

Users could also turn their Bugs into open-source digital video recorders, game controllers, biometric security scanners or any thousands of devices that the big electronics companies haven’t thought of or won’t address because the market for such a gadget is perceived as being too small.

Mr. Semmelhack expects the first generation of users to be hard core hackers who post their designs online. Ensuing users will then have a universe of plans to mimic, or can forge their own.

The point, he said, is to harness the do-it-yourself mentality of today’s engineers who can no longer get their hands dirty with today’s high-tech products or complex automobile engines. “I firmly believe inside every software engineer is a frustrated hardware engineer,” Mr. Semmelhack said. “When you put the power in the hands of individuals and hackers, innovations happen. We want to put decision making on features into the hands of the end user.”

I really don’t have the coding skills to take advantage of this, but I love the idea of being able to mix and match components to create just the device you want.

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

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