The survey's key finding indicate that more than half (56%) of professional engineers are more likely to use open source hardware such as Arduino and BeagleBone in 2013. Among hobbyists, that figure jumps to 82%. 52% of professional engineers and 81% of hobbyists report being more likely to use open source software in 2013 and more than half (54%) of hobbyists report using development kits at least once per quarter for personal projects.
“The numbers paint a very clear picture that open source hardware is showing strong traction among professional engineers and hobbyists as well as educators and students,” said Andrea Koritala, global head of technology integration at Premier Farnell. “With a high level of crossover between professionals and hobbyists, this increase in adoption extends to the workplace. An engineer on the job is looking for access to many of the same tools and resources accessible to the hobbyist community.”
Professional engineers rated reference designs as the resource that weighs most heavily in the decision to select a development kit. Among hobbyists, the most important factor was the availability of online tutorials, webinars and videos.
“This trend also speaks to the importance of ease of access and use, as a strong community can help bring ideas and designs to life,” Koritala said. “Engineers have historically been hesitant to fully embrace open source, but the sheer availability of open-source tools and resources has mitigated many of the risks associated with designing in open source for commercial use.”
The survey, conducted in April 2013, included responses from a mix of professional engineers, hobbyists and students. All respondents had purchased one or more dev kits or related products in the year prior to taking the survey.