At the end of 2022 we shared a short question survey with our community to learn a little about how and where our customers are using open science instruments and what they would like to see next. We received 43 unique responses, thank you to everyone that contributed! Below we are sharing some insights and trends from the survey.
Part 1: Where survey respondents are using open hardware
To start off the survey, we asked respondents to tell us what country they are located in and the type of institution they are affiliated with.
Around 1 in 3 respondents (32.6%) are in the US where IO Rodeo is located, with 2 out of 3 located in other countries. This wasn't too surprising as we have previously noted that are customer base is global. For example, our Rodeostat has shipped to over 42 countries.
We also asked for the type of institution where the survey respondent is affiliated, and were pleased to see a broad range of institutions represented. The top response was from people at Universities with over half of the survey responses (51.2%). The second highest response was business affiliation (16.3%). We also had survey respondents representing Makerspaces/DIYBio spaces, Schools, Non-profits, Research Institutions and No affiliation (individuals).
Part 2: How survey respondents are using open hardware
In this section we wanted to know how the community is using open science hardware. For example, for research vs. teaching, making vs. buying. We also asked them to rate the importance of open tools vs. closed proprietary and what features of open hardware are most important.
We were able to easily group responses into the 7 categories as shown below. Some responses overlapped to categories, e.g. used in both education and environmental science research. The 3 main categories were Education, Biosenor R&D and Biochem & molecular biology research. This is not surprising given these are the main areas we are designing open hardware instruments.
Over half of survey respondents are purchasing open hardware (55.8%) followed by 30.2% both purchasing and making open hardware tools from design files. Only a small number reported making from design files or not currently using open hardware in their work. This likely reflects our community which is approx. 70% customers vs. 30% non-customers. However, we also believe this demonstrates the importance of businesses to making open hardware tools accessible to everyone. Making instruments from open hardware designs requires time and some level of experience with programming or soldering for example and often requires purchasing components from multiple vendors, all of which can be barriers to entry.
Survey respondents overwhelmingly rated open hardware very highly. Over 80% responded with a rating of 4 or 5 where 5 is the highest rating.
Lastly for this section, we asked what features (besides open source hardware & software) make them more likely to purchase an open hardware instrument. This was a multiple choice question where respondents could select as many options as they wanted. There were 3 clear top choices from the survey results. Affordability and Documentation (Tutorials, videos, technical notes) received the most votes with over 72.1% each. Community support (e.g. Forums, Discord, other) was the next most selected with almost 1 in 2 respondents selecting this option (48.8%). We are looking into a good options for implementing IO Rodeo community support and are open to recommendations! Other options that got fewer votes but were important to some survey respondents were customer support or peer recommendations.
Part 3: What other open hardware science instruments do they want?
In this final section, we asked an open-ended question about what other open hardware science instruments people would like to see! We received lots of great responses and ideas and have compiled them into a list below. Some of these we have either already added (**) or are currently working on (*).
We would love to invite anyone that is currently working on, or has a recommendation for, an instrument listed here to share with the community! We would be happy to share/promote in an upcoming newsletter. Use our contact form to get in touch!