Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Fab Lab Initiative

The Fab Lab program is an educational outreach initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Bits and Atmos (CBA). The CBA is directed by Professor Neil Gershenfeld, who in 2004 was named to the "Scientific American 50" the magazine's annual list of leaders in science and technology.

Currently, Fab lab operates in rural India, Norway, Ghana, Costa Rica, South Africa and Boston. More Fab labs are being considered. Each Fab lab owns a group of off the shelf industrial-grade fabrication and electronics tools, wrapped in open source software and programs written by the folks at the Center for Bits and Atoms. The list of the tools is interesting.

The idea behind a Fab lab is to provide a rapid prototyping platform so as to encourage local entrepreneurs to take their own ideas from the drawing board to prototypes to starting local micro businesses. This effort is backed by an international consortium of engineers to hel solve problems and offer design solutions to the local community.

One of the interesting projects to come out of the Fab Lab initiative, is the Internet 0 project, by Neil and his team. Internet 0 has profound implications for networking small devices for home and offices for control and data acquisition. A more detailed description appeared in the October 2004 edition of the Scientific American.

I came to know about Fab Lab after I found that they use my AVR book in their program. Since then there have been frequent interactions between me and Neil Gershenfeld. Hopefully a Fab Lab would open in Delhi soon.

Dhananjay V. Gadre