Acknowledging 'FPGA is for Freedom' | apertus° - open source cinema

Acknowledging 'FPGA is for Freedom'

Leaving the Walled Garden

Apertus° is the culmination of a diverse pool of knowledge. Our members’ backgrounds extend from hardware development, coding and engineering, to graphic design, filmmaking, journalism and arts production. In 2013, it’s easy for us to see that not only is Open Source everywhere around us, it’s also doing some pretty amazing things! Two thirds of the servers comprising the internet are powered by open technologies. Wordpress (free and open source) is the most popular blogging platform on the planet.
The majority of mobile phones sold are now using Google’s Android OS - a variant of Linux, and Raspberry Pi’s - also running Linux - have sold over 1.75 million units (and this is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon). The unprecedented rise of 3D printing has led to a vast network of users now sharing their designs (for printed objects) freely and openly online, and more people and businesses are continuing to discover the benefits of pooling their resources and releasing data for open access.

Working within Libre Culture

Coincidentally, Andrey Filippov (from Elphel Inc.) has just published a document outlining his experience working with open and closed source software / hardware in the development of his company’s camera hardware over the last ten years. This document can be read on the Elphel development blog here. At the half-way point in the article, Andrey discusses his frustration with certain companies restricting developer and end-user access to areas of their hardware, and thus limiting the potential for innovation by a third party. He points out that now, people expect a reasonable level of authority over the hardware and software they’re often paying good money for. When considering what this means for business, he points out that not allowing for people to study and examine their software / hardware will ensure your product and / or company is left behind.

Where we stand

With apertus°, we believe in the power of communities, of empowering the user to explore and tinker, to transform ideas into outstanding developments. Our primary intention has always been to ensure this freedom, so that anyone can hack and modify whatever they require in areas that may otherwise get overlooked. After releasing our code and documentation, we hope to invest more time and effort into building a thriving online ecosystem, supporting communities, teams and companies to share customized FPGA code, DIY designs for hardware modules, special-purpose camera OS disk images and whatever else (apertus° related) you can imagine. We intend to ship Axiom with the capacity for filmmakers and engineers to extend, reprogram and optimise the hardware so that it may be placed in a variety of specialised cinematographic scenarios that we have not yet thought of. And this is only the beginning. Whilst the tipping point for open software & hardware development has not yet reached critical mass, there is every indication it is approaching.

Cover Photo under CC by Sasha Cohen

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