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GE’s new Green Bean module makes it easy to hack and customize appliances

Although the company’s appliance division is now in the hands of Electrolux, GE isn’t done innovating in the appliance industry. Today, FirstBuild (GE’s community-based invention platform) released its first product — an open source module that enables users to hack into certain GE appliances and fiddle with their controls.

Geared toward the maker community, this “Green Bean” module makes it possible for programmers and tinkerers to access the on-board microcomputer of various GE appliances, and with the help of an accompanying software development kit, also allows them to build custom control applications.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.31.56 AMIt’s definitely not a device that’s going to have mass consumer appeal, but the idea seems to be that by opening up its appliance software to users, the community will develop new uses that hadn’t previously been thought of, and help usher in the next generation of major appliances.

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“By giving anyone and everyone a direct path into the brain of our home appliances, we are endowing them with the ability to reprogram and reimagine the way that their appliances could work,” says Taylor Dawson, a GE appliances engineer. “Green Bean is limited only by your creativity and programming skills, and for FirstBuild, it’s a way to create appliances collaboratively with the best minds from around the world, and bring them to market in only a matter of months.”

Starting today, the Green Bean module is available for just 20 bucks on FirstBuild’s website, while the accompanying SDK can be found on GitHub.