Hardware Gets Social with Tindie, Cell Phones, and Kickstarter

Most people, even if they aren’t techies, have heard of open source software that is used, shared, and changed freely by all and available for modification without limit. Open source refers to something that can be modified freely because it is publicly accessible. Thanks to Emile Petrone and Tindie, open source now also applies to hardware.

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Need a touchless gesture controller for your latest tech project? What about a light intensity sensor? Go to the markets on Tindie and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for, all for sale by market members as open source hardware. And if you’re the kind of geek/nerd/scientist/entrepreneur who likes to make those things, Tindie is the marketplace for you.

Petrone cut his tech entrepreneur teeth at places like Yelp, SimpleGeo, a location-based service to help companies understand their mobile users, acquired by Urban Airship, a similar business. He’s not new to startups either, having founded Housefed, an online reservation service for hosting and attending events with home-cooked meals.

Petrone got the idea for the open source electronics components markets now in 50 countries around the world from an inquiry he put out on Reddit about interest in a market. Tindie’s timeline starts with April 7, 2012, reached 1,000 products listed on July 11, 2013, and was invited to the first White House Maker Faire June 18th, 2014. He thinks it took off because of dropping cell phone prices and the rise of crowdfunders like Kickstarter, and social media probably has something to do with it as well.

Peterone’s customers include hobbyists, Google, libraries, and NASA, and envisions that kind of opportunity for everyone. Petrone made sure Tindie is easy to use so even unfunded indie hardware has a viable place in the market, where makers and marketers can snatch stuff like Tapster, a phone touchscreen tester, or little_simon, a throwback to the 78 Milton Bradley electronic lightshow game. So if you’ve ever had an idea for a handy gadget or dreamt of inventing the next cool hot electronic toy, Tindie might help you make it happen.