It’s looking like 2009 is set to be a great year for open source and hardware hacking. Likely lost in a lot of the CES news, BUG Labs, makers of open source, Linux-based hardware you can snap together like Lego bricks, now has a range of new modules. Most interesting to readers here: there’s an audio module, with input, output, a speaker, and even the possibility of basic onboard DSP. Combined with the other modules – GPS positioning, accelerometer/proximity sensor, physical computing-style inputs and outputs for sensors and robotics and switches and things, a touchscreen, a Linux-powered computer, a camera with stills and video, cell phone SIM – this could lead to some interesting projects. It’s certainly got competition from conventional computers and new Linux-powered devices like the Android platform, but then, that just makes for a healthier range of choices for designing your own mashed-up, hacked-up hardware of the future.

More details on the new modules on Create Digital Motion, where I’m especially excited that a new module added to the lineup is a tiny, tiny projector:

Bug Labs Open Source Linux Hardware Gets a Pico-Projector Module, More

And since I have a dev unit to work with, including the audio module, I’ll get to coding and report back later this month and next. It’s a little tricky – the development environment is gorgeous, but it’s a lot easier to do simple Web-style apps than it is tougher jobs like audio – but stay tuned. And if you’re in New York and interested, I think there will be some informal hacking get-togethers at Bug Labs and with local audio brain trust Harvestworks.

And yes, this means you can imagine an iPod-style music player that’s a lot more interesting than the off-the-shelf one, at least to us supernerds.

Update: Phil Torrone, whose work with gadgets made me a fan before MAKE even existed, is of course all over this. I love his idea of an “alt.CES” alternative to the mass-manufactured gadget party. And he’s already thinking about location-based music players:

This is really cool news, I can finally re-make my location based MP3 player again, the first one was made in 2002 using Macromedia Flash, GPS and Pocket PC, yikes. The way is works… you put in a playlist based on location, so maybe you’ll hear "Eye of the tiger" when it known you’re jogging up that HUGE hill, or maybe your MP3 player only plays bands in the town you happen to be in…

Welcome to Alternative CES — "alt.CES" – BUGLab modules [Make:blog]