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Making your own open source Android smartphone

Flow DIY is an open source hardware platform so anyone can make a smartphone with the Android operating system and the exact capabilities one is looking for.

Its components as well as the final creation by the user are open source, a first step toward the generalization of DIY devices.

The context

Interest is growing in personalizing not only software and web applications, but in everyday devices. A legion of DIYersare demanding tools to create increasingly more sophisticated devices.

Open source hardware has gained followers worldwide, thanks to phenomena like Arduino, an electronic board created in Milan by two Italians and a Spaniard that can be used and modified at the whim of the buyer. To be open source, Arduino allows anyone to copy the design of the board and modify it for their own use- personal or commercial- without having to pay royalties.

With projects like Arduino and publications dedicated specifically to DIY creations (the magazine Make, from O’Reilly Media, has a large following, both of the paper, and electronic, versions), it seems the moment has arrived when users can make and personalize electronic devices at will.

It’s the next step in an idea exploited already by companies like Nike or computer firms like Dell or Lenovo, that incorporate online tools so that the user can personalize a pair of running shoes or a laptop.

Make your own smartphone with Android

Flow DIY takes the trend a step further.

Flow is a project developed by an Asian manufacturer of electronic devices for other companies (OEM), that allow anyone to make their own smartphone with the Android operating system.

Basically, it is a personalized electronic module based on a concept similar to an Arduino board, so the interested user chooses from a list of components to make the smartphone that most closely fits her preferences or needs.

An obstacle: the price

Since it’s not a mass produced phone and it lacks the discounts of carriers or large manufacturers, to make a Flow DIY device with the basic specs costs 500 dollars.

Flow DIY can be configured in a store so that the user can choose as many additional components as they wish.

The creators of the project advise of the importance of carefully reading the descriptions of every component, so users can make the best-informed decisions about what they really need.

Flow DIY is a work in progress and anyone can contribute to the project’s wiki.

Flow is a totally personalized telephone/PDA, a modular touchcreen smartphone, based on the OMAP35x-based GumstixOvero Earth single-board computer (SBC). It can be personalized to include GPS, GSM, 3.5G cellular, Bluetooth, WiFi, a camera and other functions. It’s possible to make it piece by piece, adding and eliminating modules while you assemble it to fit your needs.

More information about Flow DIY, in Engadget and on the official page of the DIY project.

Images of the project.