IPO is a search engine and collaborative knowledge creation tool for sustainable products and product making. It offers a simple way to collaboratively document basically everything and connects the data for sustainable design decisions in favour of reuse and recycling.


How It Works

The IPO-Software is a simple text editor allowing you to create documents (pages) about hardware or hardware like things. It has two basic page types:

  1. modules
  2. things

The user uses the software by creating a “module” page. A module is in its core a simple table with three columns: Input, Process, Output.

The table is empty and you are invited to describe anything you want using the table, like for example how to make a cup of coffee:

Everything in the input & output column gets automatically created their own page – “things“-pages. On that page you can find all other IPO modules that have this thing in their input or output-column. Here the thing page for „Water“.

You can click on the modules to enter them. You can see the next module with all its inputs and outputs and follow them.

… module → thing → module → thing → module → thing …

That’s it.

Effects, or Why?

1. any depth of documentation: if you create a tutorial, you always assume certain things. People know what nails are, right? IPO automatically connects knowledge and steps from everyone. “Nail” points to a module “Nail production”, the module “Nail production” points to a module “Iron production” and so on. You can go as deep as you like. As a documenter you can focus on what is important for you.

2. Sustainable Circularity! For each thing use and re-use possibilities become visible. And everyone can add new possibilities. So it quickly becomes visible what can be reused and reused over and over again and what quickly leads to a dead end (something that only occurs as output but nowhere as input.) Ideas and ways how to save things from garbage are collectively collected.

3. Tool for sustainable design. Building on point 2.: IPO shows what choice of materials and construction methods enable reuse and recycling. So it helps designers to make the right decisions for sustainable products.

This is just 3 effects or ideas. We have more. And usually people very quickly have their own ideas when they have understood the possibilities of IPO. What are yours? Share them with us!


Open Circularity!

IPO connects Open Source with sustainable Circularity! Open Source for Products and Production is one of the big promises for our future. And the development of a sustainable Circular Economy is one of our biggest challenges. Let’s combine them and make them work with each other.


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Open source for hardware & design is an emerging trend. Similar to open-source-software in open-source-hardware source-files get shared openly in order to enable everybody to study, modify, build and redistribute existing projects. It is about new forms and patterns of innovation and collaboration. The field is still young and has still some major questions to solve. One is: How to create, publish and organize source-files for hardware for more connected and effective collaboration?


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Circular economy is an idea for a sustainable future and economy that thinks ecological and works without waste. Products, production and distribution are designed for 100% recycling and to protect the environment. To make this happen we have to reinvent many things including how we collaborate with each other. We need a lot more transparency and new ways to collaboratively create and share information about physical things: How to allow our complex economy to collaborate in circles?

IPO brings the two questions together and asks: How to share information about physical objects to allow open collaboration and to enable a sustainable Circular Economy at the same time! Open Source supports Circularity. And Circular Economy ideas support the development of Open Source Hardware!

Click here for a Video: What is Open Source Circular Economy?