Having worked out considerably well for Local Motors, the crowdsourced design business model is certainly something on the radar of companies in other industries. The approach not only stirs up new ideas for a manufacturer, but also allows inspired users to fix whatever shortcomings they might see with an existing user experience…not a bad trade.

Among other companies who are exploring this new method of getting fresh ideas onto the market is General Electric (GE). Their new FirstBuild platform is an open source innovation project that allows for users to hack together their own ‘smart’ appliances using FirstBuild’s own ‘Green Bean Maker Module‘, which is effectively a dev board designed for the kitchen that can be used in tandem with a Raspberry Pi.

The appliance manufacturing giant has also teamed up with Stratasys to bring world-class additive manufacturing into the mix:

“We believe that the prospects of tapping into the hardware innovation scene are very promising,” said Gilad Gans, President of Stratasys North America in their official press release.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to help revolutionize the way things are made. This is an open-innovation environment where FirstBuild users will be able to use our cutting-edge technology to accelerate product development phases and create real products.”

FirstBuild has created a microfactory where they can churn out and test small runs of some of the better product design ideas, such as refrigerator notifications that relay to a smart watch or a new take on the indoor grill, among others.



While the possibilities of what can be done are limited only by one’s imagination, here’s some of the best concepts that have come out of their platform thus far:

Dryer Alert

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Defrost Bin

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Auto-Fill Pitcher

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Curious to learn more about the platform? Head over to FirstBuild.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.