Can open source kick-start the hardware hobbyist market?

This is a different support model – it's community oriented support. To really allow us to reach a lot more people this is not going to be a TI product. It's going under the name Digi-key."

Beagle Board from Digi-Key
Open source has done a lot over the last 10 years.

But can it kick-start a hobbyist market for hardware?

Texas Instruments thinks it can. That is why they have placed their latest OMAP 35xx chip on to a USB-powered board for distribution by Digi-Key of Minnesota.

The resulting product is called the Beagle Board, and it went on sale online this week, said Jason Kridner, open platforms principal architect for TI. Want a second distribution option? It will be on print catalogs in time for Christmas.

"We've got 480 developers on the mailing list, and they talk about applications in gaming, smart cards, media centers, prosthetic medical devices, even autonomous robots."

If you're an OEM looking to translate that USB power requirement into terms you understand, it's a five-volt power source.

"This is going after a new customer base. This is going after a hobbyist base, students and open source developers. They won't build products directly. This is the end product for them."  

"The other aspect is this is a different support model – it's community oriented support. To really allow us to reach a lot more people this is not going to be a TI product. It's going under the name Digi-key."

Digi-Key, for those who don't know, is a $370 million electronics distributor based in the little town of Thief River Falls, which is way north of Lake Wobegon, about 30 miles east of I-29 and the Red River valley of North Dakota.

If you're an electronics hobbyist with Internet access, however, that's the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway.

 

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