Remember when you were a kid and you preferred to take apart your Transformer action figure to see what was inside instead of play with it?
Well at Bug Labs – a modular, open source system for building devices – the goal is to foster that environment of innovation and creativity that kids typically enjoy.
“We strongly believe that by lowering the barriers to innovation, regardless of industry, great things can happen,” Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of Bug, told TMCnet in a recent interview. “One only need follow the evolution of software over the past 40 years to recognize the vast benefits that low- or zero-cost development options, like open source, have brought to the market. Bug Labs’ goal is to replicate those same successes in hardware innovation, which has been extremely difficult to date, due largely to high costs, high risks, and scarce access to hardware parts.”
“What excites us is the promise of what new custom devices can bring to markets with long-standing challenges, or vast opportunities to develop new choices and options for consumers,” he added. “We envision a world where device ‘appstores’ stock thousands of inexpensive, specialized devices, catering to highly segmented markets, designed and built by small, innovative companies, using open source hardware IP and modular platforms like the Bug System.”
Bug Labs’ products and services allow businesses to prototype, pilot and produce new electronic devices quickly, easily and affordably, according to company officials. The Bug System consists of the BUGbase 2.0, a powerful, palm-sized Linux or Android (News - Alert) computer and an array of hardware modules, offering video, display, camera, GPS, USB and sensor capabilities. The company also offers its BUGstinger developer tool and a variety of customized software, service and support options.
Through its partnerships with wireless carriers, consultancies and hardware distributors, Bug equips companies and individuals with all of the tools and resources needed to experiment in creating new devices.
“In short, we remove much of the expense and risk that companies face with traditional manufacturing processes,” Semmelhack said.
One area that Bug has been excited about diving head first into is the machine-to-machine (M2M) space. And with the main goal of Bug being to drastically expand the potential audience of electronic device innovators, the company sees great opportunity in wireless device development, particularly with the growth of the M2M market.
Bug can facilitate this growth by significantly reducing the time and costs necessary to prototype and produce new products and, in so doing, “revolutionary devices can be brought to life,” according to Semmelhack.
To help further break into the M2M market, Bug has teamed with embedded M2M solutions leader Sprint (News - Alert).
“Through our partnership, product designers and software engineers are able to build, program and deploy new wireless devices that come pre-certified for use on the Sprint network using the Bug System, without requiring additional wireless certifications,” Semmelhack said. “Essentially, a company can build a device in one day, and begin using it the next – a luxury that is simply not possible with traditional development approaches.”
“In addition, we are also an equipment partner for Sprint’s M2M Collaboration Center in California, enabling our platform to be front and center in the creation and testing of new M2M products and ideas,” he added. “This level of innovation and convenience makes our Bug platform that much more attractive and viable to developers at the enterprise-level.”
As the surge of M2M continues, Bug stands ready to address the growing demand.
“Several recent research reports indicate skyrocketing growth of the M2M market,” Semmelhack said. “In April 2011, the Yankee Group predicted that worldwide cellular M2M connections would reach 217.5 million in 2015. Additionally, research group Analysys (News - Alert) Mason released in March 2011 similar growth figures, predicting that M2M device connections worldwide will grow from 62 million in 2010 to 2.1 billion in 2020. Based on these findings and our own observations, we will not be surprised if the worldwide demand for open hardware solutions like the Bug System reaches $400M-$500M (hardware + software + services) by 2015.”
“Because data output will continue to grow, companies that are able to adequately collect, analyze, and create meaning using the data will have a significant competitive advantage in the market,” he added. “Not only do M2M connections drive improved decision-making capabilities, they also create opportunities for new revenue streams and improved products and services for consumers. We believe that our platform is ripe for companies to create custom M2M devices so that they can begin finding new value in information immediately.”
Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.