Open Device Lab Provides Free Testing Environment For Helsinki's Startup Community

    Designers and developers have learned the hard way that apps, webapps, and webpages don’t necessarily come out looking the same across every device. You may think that your android app would look the same between tablets, but in reality you might come across ridiculous scaling errors, or all sorts of unexpected problems.

    To help entrepreneurs test out their products on actual devises, Viljami Salminen of Kisko Labs has put together Open Device Lab, a collection of phones and tablets that the community is free to test out their products on. The Lab is located at the Kisko Labs offices in Helsinki, located between Kamppi and Ruoholahti.

    “It all basically started from a frustration,” says says Viljami Salminen. “As I explain in this article on my site the reality is that, we, as web developers, now need to test our work on multiple devices instead of just few desktop browsers, and that’s really easier said than done as devices can be quite expensive. I also think that it’s bad for our environment if everyone starts to collect devices like a maniac,” says Viljami Salminen.

    “Think of a situation where _every_ web developer would purchase a large pile of gadgets and keep adding new ones as they are launched — wouldn’t make much sense. This is a much better ways to handle the problem.”

    Anyone can donate their old devices to the collection, and so far they have 17 phones and tablets in the lab. Just today they got confirmation from Sony saying that they’ll donate a few Android touch devices to the lab.

    “‘I’ve tried to contact all the device manufacturers that I could think of, so I have good hopes that we might get few more devices for the lab from them soon. I only yesterday started contacting them about this so I don’t yet know how many of them will even answer,” says Salminen.

    The idea originally came from Jeremy Keith, who wrote in his blog in Spring of 2012 that anyone was welcome to visit their device lab at Clearleft’s office in Brighton, UK.

    “Few months later similar labs started popping up in places like Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Malmö and there’s currently 11 similar labs all over the world,” says Salminen.

    If you can’t make it to the lab, and if there’s not a similar service in your city, we’ve covered Helsinki-based BitBar, whose Testdroid Recorder allows you to run tests across a number of devices.

    I think this is part of what makes the Helsinki startup scene so great. The Finns have a reputation of being very closed and private people, but the startups scene is anything but. Here’s to openness!