GE today announced it has partnered with Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator, to launch a new model for the manufacturing industry. GE and Local Motors will launch an open platform, FirstBuild, to source collaborative ideas online from a community of engineers, scientists, fabricators, designers and enthusiasts to prototype, iterate and refine existing GE products, as well as build and commercialize various new designs.
As an Automotive 3.0 company, Local Motors, creator of the Rally Fighter, works very differently than any other car company in the world. Local Motors is a co-creation company that taps into an online community of users to design new vehicles. It created a global community of car enthusiasts that included engineers, mechanics, and industrial designers and broke down the creation of the vehicle into a set of tasks that were widely distributed, via the cloud.
So intriguing is Local Motors' social-plus-collaborative take on car making that it was noticed by GE who hopes to use the startup's expanded workforce model to accomplish something previously thought impossible.
As part of the partnership, a new microfactory – a specialized facility focused on prototyping and producing a small batch of products at a rapid pace – will be established where community ideas will be built, tested and sold.
The most popular innovations may then be selected for testing, rapid prototyping and small volume production at the microfactory, which will be open to the public.
The FirstBuild platform will officially launch in the summer of 2014. The first set of projects will focus on GE Appliances and the future of cooking, inviting community members to submit and discuss ideas to improve the performance of select major kitchen appliances. The first product is expected to be available to U.S. consumers by late 2014. In the future, GE will evaluate applications of this business model across the company's other business units.
Watch below video explaining how Local Motors harneses the power of the community, while also empowering the community to create, develop, build, and mod new, original cars.
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