Makers tap into China’s open hardware scene

Writing for CNBC, Lynn Lee notes that a grassroots innovation movement centered around open hardware and Maker culture is evolving in China.

“Where high-tech research and development was once seen as something only large companies could afford, more and more individuals are going it on their own,” Lee explained.

Image Credit: CNET China

To be sure, hackerspaces, which Lee describes as “key” to a booming DIY or Maker Movement, were non-existent in the China of 2010. However, the global concept has quickly taken off in a number of Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing.

“There are people here who are passionate about the maker culture and innovation. There is an open hardware scene in China tapped into the global maker movement and it is growing,” Dr. Silvia Lindtner of the University of California, Irvine and Fudan University in Shanghai told CNBC.

Image Credit: CNET China

“In recent years, China has become an essential enabler in the global maker movement. That’s because many factories in Shenzhen have long adopted a system of open-source sharing in order to lower production costs.”

Lee also highlighted the Shenzhen-based Seeed Studio founded by Eric Pan, which works to combine the potential of open-source hardware with opportunities offered by Guangdong’s electronics supply chain.

“Makers looking to produce prototypes of their designs and small batches of samples can turn to Seeed for help,” Lee noted. “The company also hosts an active community on its site, where proposals are pitched and projects with the most support are manufactured and made available for sale.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Eric is understandably enthusiastic about the open source movement, as he also organized the Shenzhen Maker Faire and established the hardware incubation project “HAXLR8R” with Cyril Ebersweiler.

“MakerSpaces will likely enable a new wave of tech startups in China as in the US. To be sure, Makers working with their peers are now able to more easily realize their goals, while bringing products to market with new platforms such as e-commerce sites and crowdfunding,” Pan told Bits & Pieces during a recent interview.

Shenzhen (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

“MakerSpaces are gradually helping Chinese tech companies discover additional possibilities, although the Maker role is likely to increase, with participants in the DIY culture setting technology trends in conjunction with major industries.”

Interested in learning more about China and the Maker Movement? You can check out our article archive on the subject here.

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