Open Source Stories: e-NABLE: open technology, faster progress

If you were an attendee who set off on the Red Hat Summit 5k run this morning at 6:00 a.m., kudos to you. I’m not a fan of anything but a cup of coffee and some sweet silence that early in the morning. But this morning was different. Red Hatters and attendees, including some of the people in the Penn Manor Open Source Story who are attending Summit this week, paid the entrance fee or gathered sponsors and laced up their running shoes. With help from the Greater Boston CVB, they raised a total of $4,868.44.

Red Hat is committed to growing and collaborating with the open source community. This year, our 5k funds are being donated to the non-profit Enable Community Foundation. The foundation supports a global community of volunteers using emerging technologies to develop innovative solutions for underserved populations. The e-NABLE community is pioneering this movement by designing, fabricating, and distributing open-source 3-D-printed prosthetics for people who need them, and giving them away for free. You can learn more about the projects happening within this organization, volunteer to make something with your 3-D printer, or donate funds by visiting www.enablingthefuture.org.

e-NABLE began as a comment on a YouTube post that showed a young boy in South Africa receiving a 3D printed robo-hand given to him by 2 people who lived continents apart, collaborated on a project, and shared their designs. Jon Schull saw that video and put together a Google map, posted it in the comments section of the video, and asked people to pin themselves if they wanted to make a hand for someone. The map went from several hundred pins to roughly 5,000 in just 1.5 years. And the designs have far eclipsed that first robo-hand. So many people are eager to use technology to make a difference. e-NABLE hopes to wrangle that excitement into a scaleable and organized non-profit to ensure the collective energy translates into action, progress, and the democratic distribution of devices to people who need them.

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When we decided to tell the e-NABLE story, we thought we were telling a story about children and their parents finding affordable choices where there were none before because of new technology and open collaboration. That turns out to be just a small portion of the overall picture. What we found is the open source way in a hardware community, expanding what is possible. We found a research and development model that relied on users becoming designers, and a community committed to bringing different usable prototypes to smiling children in a matter of months. We found people from a variety of backgrounds who wanted to help those they’ve never met. We found a burgeoning open hardware maker community at the edge of disrupting an entire industry.

The trailer for e-NABLE: open technology, faster progress, the second film in our Open Source Stories Film series, premiered at Red Hat Summit 2015 on Wednesday morning during the general session. Many people sent tweets using the hashtag #opensourcestories. We hope you will continue to use the hashtag and follow us on Twitter. If you missed the general session, you can watch the trailer on Red Hat’s You Tube channel.

Look for the full short documentary film later this summer. If you don’t think you’ll remember to check back, visit redhat.com/opensourcestories and register. We’ll send you information about upcoming films and interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits.

Don’t forget, we are always excited to hear your stories. If you have a story you would like to share, email us at opensourcestories@redhat.com. We can’t promise to make a film out of each and every one, but stories build strong communities and we’d love to hear yours.