Openly shared low-cost electronic hardware applications, known as open electronics, have sparked a new open-source movement, with much untapped potential to advance scientific research. Initially designed to appeal to electronic hobbyists, open electronics have formed a global “maker” community and are increasingly used in science and industry. In this perspective article, we review the current costs and benefits of open electronics for use in scientific research ranging from the experimental to the theoretical sciences. We discuss how user-made electronic applications can help (I) individual researchers, by increasing the customization, efficiency, and scalability of experiments, while improving data quantity and quality; (II) scientific institutions, by improving access to customizable high-end technologies, sustainability, visibility, and interdisciplinary collaboration potential; and (III) the scientific community, by improving transparency and reproducibility, helping decouple research capacity from funding, increasing innovation, and improving collaboration potential among researchers and the public. We further discuss how current barriers like poor awareness, knowledge access, and time investments can be resolved by increased documentation and collaboration, and provide guidelines for academics to enter this emerging field. We highlight that open electronics are a promising and powerful tool to help scientific research to become more innovative and reproducible and offer a key practical solution to improve democratic access to science.
Michael Oellermann, Jolle W Jolles, Diego Ortiz, Rui Seabra, Tobias Wenzel, Hannah Wilson, Richelle L Tanner, Open Hardware in Science: The Benefits of Open Electronics, Integrative and Comparative Biology, Volume 62, Issue 4, October 2022, Pages 1061–1075, https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icac043
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This article was originally published in Integrative and Comparative Biology, volume 62, issue 4, in 2022. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icac043