It's not exactly a new concept, but the Wall Street Journal published a story about an open source hardware project called Arduino.
The story, "Taking an Open-Source Approach to Hardware," profiles the success of Arduino. Arduino is simple software to program microcontrollers. It's being used in everything from art installations to blinking LEDs on t-shirts.
But unlike many electronic designs and software, Arduino is free. Anyone can download the microcontroller software and build their own Arduino-powered robot, clock, or whatever else they want.
One example is LilyPad, developed by Leah Buechley, a professor at MIT. LilyPad is a small washable version of Arduino. It can be sewn into fabric to create clothes with blinking LEDs or whatever the programmer wants.
But because it's based on Arduino, LilyPad has to be open source too and that's fine with Buechley.
"I don't really care if someone can copy this thing, because a month from now I'm going to be making something different," Buechley told the Wall Street Journal. "It's going to be archaic by the time they catch up."