GE and Local Motors, a crowdsource design community similar to Quirky, have joined forces to create an open-source platform called FirstBuild. FirstBuild will be used exclusively for designing, testing, and producing large appliances with an emphasis on co-creation and micro-manufacturing. Basically, that means that it will make small batches of products in a hurry -- something Local Motors is known for.
Local Motors is also known for designing the $99,900 Rally Fighter pictured above in a microfactory, along with an assortment of home and vehicle accessories and, my personal favorite, this Mercedes G55 12v "car" just for kids. Sadly, I don't think GE and Local Motors are planning to make a car-oven hybrid or any other mutant appliances. According to the official press release, the team's first prototype will deal with the "future of cooking."
Steve Liguori, GE's Executive Director of Global Innovation, weighs in on the partnership, via press release: "At GE over the past years, we've redefined our approach to innovation, focusing on R&D as well as co-creation, open collaboration and partnership, which has allowed us to engage new audiences and develop a following across various industry sectors. Today, a new era of manufacturing is dawning--and with Local Motors, we are pioneering the future of work, fast tracking a new model for the manufacturing industry, and improving and expanding GE's product offering to better meet future customer needs."
FirstBuild is expected to launch this summer and its introductory product should be available for purchase in the United States in late 2014. We'll keep an eye out for any news. In the meantime, check out the Aros smart air conditioner, the first major appliance to come from the GE and Quirky partnership.