After almost a year and a half of community discussion, OSHWA unveiled the Open Source Hardware Certification Program at the 2016 Open Hardware Summit. Today, with the help of a major grant from the Sloan Foundation, we are excited to announce that we are taking major steps towards Certification 2.0.
The original certification program has some fairly straightforward goals. It is designed to make it easy for creators to identify their hardware as compliant with the community definition of open source hardware, as well as make it easy for users to know that hardware that is advertised as “open source” meets their expectations. The certification process gives a creator confidence that they have done everything required to call their hardware open source. The certification logo gives users confidence that they will be able to access, build upon, and hack any hardware that they receive.
We didn’t know what to expect when we launched the certification program and have been blown away by the results. There are currently 170 certified hardware projects from 18 countries on 5 continents participating in the program.
While we are excited about the certification program, shortly after it launched we started thinking of ways to improve it. The current interface built on a combination of google forms and wordpress is functional, but not necessarily elegant. Once the process was live, we also started getting feedback from users on ways to make it better. One major concern was that the registration process exists in a bit of a vacuum. It asks the creator to verify that she has complied with all of the requirements but does not provide very much guidance on the best ways to comply or the various choices that can be made and still comply.
For the past year we have been working with the Technology Law and Policy Clinic at the New York University School of Law to create more robust guidance to help creators navigate the licensing, documentation, and other decisions that creators must make when they are working towards certification. We have also been working with the team at Objectively to turn that guidance into an interactive process that draws on examples from the community.
The grant from the Sloan Foundation allows us to take that work and turn the certification into a much more robust and useful resource. We are hoping to have the new site ready to launch by the 2018 Summit. Until then, please let us know if you have thoughts, ideas, or concerns. We are very excited about the next chapter of the Certification Program and hope you will be too.