The Multiplication tool is one of the five powerful thinking tools taught to me by the folks at Systematic Inventive Thinking. I like this tool because it is simple and yields great results. Even children can learn it.
Multiplication works by taking a component of the product, service, strategy, etc, and then making one or several copies of it. But the copy must be changed in some way from the original component. The original component is still intact, unchanged. Now using Function Follows Form, we work backwards to take this hypothetical solution and find a problem that it solves.
The Front End of Innovation blog reports 70% of respondents to their recent survey believe eliminating business method patents will hurt innovation and its practices. The premise is that innovators and entrepreneurs are less likely to innovate if they know they cannot get patent protection. The result surprises me, and it make me wonder what the other 30% were thinking.
The issue stems from whether an inventor can patent an abstract process, something that involves nothing more than thoughts. The courts are saying no. A recent ruling on a business method patent by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that it was not tied to a machine or apparatus, nor did it transform a particular article into a different state or thing. It did meet the standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court for patentability. Many industries that are not "machine-based" like software makers, Internet companies, and investment houses, are concerned.
Visit the Applied Marketing Innovation Wiki to see a collection of inventions across a wide array of product categories as well as information about innovation consultants. The information is from students at The University of Cincinnati taking the graduate course, Applied Marketing Innovation.
My crystal ball is no better than others. Rather than predict innovations, I predict what characteristics they will have and how they might be invented.
1. Mobility: Future products will incorporate some degree of mobility and integration into the mobile lifestyle. Smart phones fuel this. But mobility is not all about communications. Future products will take advantage of the data created by people as they move through their day. The innovation templates, Task Unification and Attribute Dependency, are excellent tools for identifying these opportunities.
Proto Labs, the world’s fastest manufacturer of CNC machined and injection-molded parts, has announced the launch of its Cool Idea! award, a new program designed to give product designers the opportunity to bring innovative products to life. Proto Labs will provide $100,000 worth of prototyping and short-run production services to award recipients.
The New York Times published a list of "32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow," an eclectic mix of concepts that range from the wild and wacky like SpeechJammer (#14) to more practical ideas like a blood test for depression (#25).
I analyzed each of the 32 concepts to see which ones could be explained by the five patterns of Systematic Inventive Thinking. These patterns are the "DNA" of products that can be extracted and applied to any product or service to create new-to-the-world innovations. Dr. Jacob Goldenberg found in his research that the majority of successful innovations conform to one or more of these patterns. Conversely, the majority of unsuccessful innovations (those that failed in the marketplace) do not conform to a pattern.
"The Quiet TimeTM Universal System turns cell phones off automatically in designated areas such as theaters, hospitals, doctor's offices, and business meeting rooms. Our patented technology converts your incoming calls to text messages and alerts the cell phone owner."
This may sound like the latest gizmo you would see at the Consumer Electronics Show. It is actually an invention created by my students using Systematic Inventive Thinking...in 2007, the year the iPhone was first released. Five years later, Apple has been awarded a patent described as an "apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device." It reveals a way to change aspects of a mobile device based on certain events or surroundings.
Brain measuringCanadian researchers found that areas in the reward center of the brain became active when people hear a song for the first time. The more the listener enjoys what they are hear, the stronger the connections are in the region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. The study is published in the journal Science.
The end of the year is a popular time to publish lists of all sorts. A quick glance at CNN, for example, revealed lists such as "75 Amazing Sports Moments," "The 50 Best Android Apps," "8 Very Old Sites in the New World," and many more.
Here is The Top 10 Most Underappreciated Inventions. The criteria for making this list are: 1. the invention has to be of high value, 2. we take it for granted; we just expect it to be there, and 3. it would be hard to imagine life without it; the substitute for the invention would be unacceptable.