Open Device Labs (ODLs) are shared community pools of internet connected devices such as smartphones, tablets or consoles, and are open for developers to test their websites and smartphone apps free of charge. In order for this global collaborative project to be viable ODL is calling on Cambridgeshire organisations to “Donate Your Dusty Device” via their website http://OpenDeviceLab.com/DYDD.

Over 90 Labs have been established already at locations around the globe and KISS and Bug Interactive have kicked off the Cambridge Open Device Lab (CambODL), with Cambridge-based Cambrionix, world leaders in multiple USB charging and sync devices for Apple iPad and Android tablet deployments, supporting not just CambOBL but virtually all the other ODLs too.

Worldwide, there are around 20,000 different models, and about 15 new devices are released every week. Each variant of a device is unique and comes with its own technical quirks and hurdles. Having access to these varied devices, both modern and older, is often difficult. This poses problems to developers creating new content, often resulting in quality assurance being reduced in priority, with websites and apps often not tested against enough real devices.

The aim of CambODL is the following:
• Create a network of labs across Cambridge
• Be inclusive to businesses, students, scientists, not just developers
• Get other companies and individuals to becomes partners > Our Senior Digital Designer, Matt Rose and founder of the Cambridge Open Device Lab explains: "Being able to test across multiple platforms, different devices and models is critical for any web developer. Unfortunately, maintaining a representative selection of necessary devices for testing purposes in-house has become more complex and expensive due to the sheer variety, which is why places like the CambODL will become an important resource for developers and local companies. With Cambridge's reputation in science, technology and entrepreneurship there's a real opportunity to make the Cambridge Open Device Lab one of the best resources in the world.”

Adam Miller, Digital Director, at Bug was first introduced to the idea of a device lab by Matt back in 2012 and was keen to get involved from the outset. Adam explains: “For those of us that build web applications, testing is the only solution as the hardware options available to our audiences are increasing constantly. Manufacturers on the whole do not provide devices for testing purposes, and with many legacy setups being hard to find (let alone buy) DYDD can only be a huge benefit.”

Steven Tyson, Director at Cambrionix Ltd, Cambridge has been supportive of the initiative, both locally and regionally. He said: “As a company who designs products which can be used with any number of different mobiles or tablet devices, it’s essential for us to support our local ODLs. Not only do they provide a great service at low (if any!) cost, they can also save us a large amount of money each year. We save money by not having to purchase large amounts of mobiles and tablet hardware which we may only need to use for a short time.”

He continued: “It’s nice to be in possession of the newest and latest gadgets but from a business perspective it’s not practical to spend hundreds on a device which may only be needed for a quick test. Open Device Labs should be embraced as something which can save you money and broaden your SW/HW test coverage – both of which are essential for many tech businesses.”

If you are interested in learning more about Cambridgeshire’s Open Device Lab, either to support the global initiative ‘Donate Your Dusty Device’ via http://OpenDeviceLab.com/DYDD or to use the testing pool please visit Cambridge Open Device Lab.