Open source hardware (OSHW) is the same idea as open access to information and knowledge and open source software, but for design of the physical product and any software that is also part of the product. There are two reasons why this might be useful for Azimuth: first it makes the whole approach transparent and as environmental problems requires rapid progress on results and solutions this might potentially enable that. The other is that costs for setting up a fab line to produce gadgets are getting prohibitively expensive, so there is already a lot of collaboration among companies that do this. So OSHW is just a logical continuation of these. It is a complementary approach not a substitute for market mechanism approaches.
Here is some more from Wikipedia
Open source hardware consists of physical artifacts of technology designed and offered in the same manner as free and open source software (FOSS). Open source hardware is part of the open source culture movement and applies a like concept to a variety of components. The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned. Hardware design (i.e. mechanical drawings, schematics, bill of materials, PCB layout data, HDL source code and integrated circuit layout data) in addition to the software that drives the hardware are all released with the FOSS approach.
Since the rise of reconfigurable programmable logic devices, sharing of logic designs has been a form of open source hardware. Instead of the schematics, hardware description language (HDL) code is shared. HDL descriptions are commonly used to set up system-on-a-chip systems either in field-programmable gate arrays or directly in application-specific integrated circuit designs. HDL modules, when distributed, are called semiconductor intellectual property cores, or IP cores.
One of the major differences between developing open source software and developing open source hardware is that hardware results in tangible outputs, which cost money to prototype and manufacture. As a result, the phrase “free as in speech, not as in beer”, more formally known as Gratis versus Libre, distinguishes between the idea of zero cost and the freedom to use and modify information. While open source hardware faces challenges in minimizing cost and reducing financial risks for individual project developers, some community members have proposed models to address these needs. Given this, there are initiatives to develop sustainable community funding mechanisms, such as the Open Source Hardware Central Bank,22 as well as tools like KiCAD to make schematic development more accessible to more users.
This is a project to develop and build open source energy monitoring, control and analysis tools for energy efficiency and distributed renewable micro-generation.
These technologies are at the heart of sustainable energy systems, monitoring and controlling how energy flows between the various parts of the system. These tasks can be achieved using a low cost, modular, open source micro-controller system known as an Arduino, powerful and flexible enough to form the basis of a wide range of systems.
RepRap is a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap can print those parts, RepRap is a self-replicating machine - one that anyone can build given time and materials. It also means that - if you’ve got a RepRap - you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend.
RepRap is about making self-replicating machines, and making them freely available for the benefit of everyone. We are using 3D printing to do this, but if you have other technologies that can copy themselves and that can be made freely available to all, then this is the place for you too.
Grab CAD, Over 20000 open source (check ?) CAD drawings, made by around 80 000 engineers. Pretty impressive and if you need a pipe expand machine this is the place for you. They also have thematic challenges.
Open source Hardware, Wikipedia