From South by Southwest comes an interesting chat with DIY synth x0xb0x (and MIDIsense) creator Limor Fried:

Open Source Physical Objects: Limor Fried and her x0xb0x Synthesizer

As someone in comments notes, the idea of selling DIY kits for devices like synthesizers is an old one. But that idea has fallen by the wayside in an era of big electronics makers, soldering iron-phobic consumers, and increasingly restrictive protection of intellectual property. That’s not to say protecting designs is all bad — many early electronic pioneers had their ideas blatantly ripped off and lost money as a result. But Limor’s synth demonstrates that shared designs can make money, offer customers the chance to change their hardware to do what they want (like adding extra knobs!), and provide explicit legal rights for modification (hack your hardware without fear of lawyers). Limor told me she has a pretty successful business built on her kits, so this should be a red flag that there are business opportunities here, not just chances for making cool musical instruments (though that’s great, too)!

Of course, it’d be great to see the idea applied to truly new hardware, and not just loving recreations of the Roland TB-303. But, with the pendulum shifting, maybe that will happen, too.

Incidentally, if you want your very own x0xb0x (“socksbox”), good luck. Limor just announced a new run is near, but it’ll only fill existing preorders. So, get in line. (Anyone got one already and want to send a quick review / photos?)

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