Open source news this week: October 28 - November 1, 2013

Weekly wrap-up: Motorola announces open hardware phones, Cisco open sources H.264 codec, and more

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Open source news this week:

October 28 - November 1, 2013

What other open source-related news stories did you read about this week? Share them with us in the comments section. Follow us on Twitter where we share these stories in real time.


  • Open hardware is calling. The open hardware movement is coming to phones. This week Motorola announced "Project Ara," a modular smartphone project that could ultimately allow third-party developers to create their own hardware modules for the phone. Motorola (which is now owned by Google) announced the new customizeable phones on Monday, saying: "Led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, Project Ara is developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines." Open Source Electronics editor Simone Cicero published this optimistic editorial on Project Ara, saying it could be a needed shift to a more "responsible, sustainable, customizable and personal consumer electronics industry."
  • Cisco open sources H.264 codec. Cisco and Mozilla are joining forces to open up the H.264 video codec for use in Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC). This week Cisco announced plans to open source its H.264 codec, and Mozilla announced it will use the codec in Firefox soon, which will allow WebRTC such as videoconferencing to occur without installing any plugins, reports The Next Web. Mozilla notes that the move "enables any open source project to incorporate Cisco’s H.264 module without paying MPEG LA license fees." ZDNet speculates the move may be part of a bigger strategy by Cisco to help its video conferencing solutions and business strategies. Regardless of the motives, Mozilla says it is grateful for Cisco's contribution and that it "will work with Cisco to put the OpenH264 project on a sound footing and to ensure that it is governed well."
  • Making smarter machines. Palm pilot inventor Jeff Hawkins has been studying the human brain for years, and now he's releasing an open source platform that he uses to put his intelligence research to work. has the story of Grok, the company Hawkins co-founded in 2005, and how it's using the human brain as a guide to build more intelligent machines. Grok is now releasing NuPIC, "an open source platform that includes the company’s algorithms and a software framework for building prediction systems with them." While Grok is only using NuPIC for IT infrastructure monitoring, Wired reports that it could also be used for natural language processing, machine vision and robotics. Find out why Grok believes its platform is more unique than other open source machine learning algorithms, like Apache Mahout, RapidMiner, and Weka.
  • Open data goes global. The London-based Open Data Institute (ODI) announced this week that it is laying the ground work for a substantial international open data network. ODI says it is frequently contacted by organizations around the world asking for help setting up local versions of the organization, which helps to open up publicly-funded datasets and also incubates startups in the field, according to Gigaom. As part of the expansion, ODI is launching 13 "ODI nodes" around the world.


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Ginny Hamilton - Ginny Hamilton is community manager for, an online publication and community focused on how CIOs and IT leaders create business value through information technology. A former journalist, Ginny is passionate about local politics, journalism, technology, and social media. Follow her on Twitter for coverage of all those topics along with a healthy mix of cat photos.