Yahoo's recent patent filings suggest it is entering the e-Book market, a move that will pit it against Amazon, Apple, and other content providers. But given the nature of the patent filings, Yahoo seeks to leap over the competition with a potentially more innovative approach. Yahoo's concepts conform to the Attribute Dependency technique, one of five in the SIT Method. Research shows that new products that conform to one of the five SIT techniques tend to be more successful in the marketplace.
Toyota is designing a new technology that will react to the driver's mood. It will adjust how the car behaves depending on whether the driver is sad, happy, angry or neutral. The technology uses a camera to identify facial emotions by taking readings from 238 points on the driver’s face.
A driver’s mood can affect performance on the road. Research has shown that people with negative (and sometimes positive) emotions are distracted even more than those using a cell phone while driving.
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 Columbia Sportswear Company is launching a new line of clothing that keeps you...cooler. The Omni-Freeze® is a specialized fabric weave that increases the surface area of the fabric that contacts your bare skin. This transmits heat faster and feels cooler to the touch.
This is a great example of the Attribute Dependency Technique, one of five in the S.I.T. innovation method. Attribute Dependency differs from the other templates in that it uses attributes (variables) of the situation rather than components. Start with an attribute list, then construct a 2 x 2 matrix of these, pairing each against the others. Each cell represents a potential dependency that forms a Virtual Product. Using Function Follows Form, we work backwards and envision a potential benefit or problem that this hypothetical solution solves. In the case of Omni-Freeze®, the dependency is created between body temperature and layers of clothing.
The rapid adoption of smartphones is changing the landscape of the marketing research industry. Last month’s “Market Research in the Mobile World” conference in Cincinnati highlighted many ways the market research industry is trying to adjust. The industry is evolving from using lengthy printed surveys and personal interviews to instead collecting consumer reactions “in the moment” that are transmitted digitally as it happens. What was once a process of collecting “many answers from few” is becoming a process of collecting “a few answers from the many.” With their trusty appliance in hand, consumers can now share what’s on their mind virtually any part of their day. Not only is data received faster, it is also more reliable by sampling smaller bites from a larger pool.
This month's Innovation Sighting comes to us from Dr. Steven Palter. Dr. Palter is a gynecologic fertility specialist and a true innovator in the medical field. He learned the S.I.T. method recently, so he knows how to spot the five innovation patterns of S.I.T. in everyday products and services.
This one is a new refrigerator launched by LG at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It is the LGLFX31945ST French Door Refrigerator with Door-in-Door. The new Door-in-Door is a classic example of the Multiplication Technique. To use Multiplication, make a list of the components of the product, select a component and copy it, then change the copied component along some variable such as size, location, or other attribute. Once you create this Virtual Product, try to identify new benefits or markets served by this configuration.
"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.
It might surprise you that a single innovation pattern, Multiplication, formed the premise of all photography. The cameras you use today evolved from multiplication. The entire photography industry continues to benefit thanks to this powerful pattern.
Multiplication is one of five simple patterns innovators have used for thousands of years. These patterns are the basis of Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method that channels your thinking and regulates the ideation process. The method works by taking a product, service, or process and applying a pattern to it. This changes the starting point. It morphs the product into something weird, perhaps unrecognizable. With this altered configuration (we call the Virtual Product), you work backwards to link it to a problem that it addresses or new benefit it delivers. The process is called Function Follows Form.
Nissan's latest innovation takes the lowly car horn and elevates it to the status of "smart." The 2013 Altima has a new feature that's likely to surprise buyers. It's called Easy-Fill Tire Alert. The car's tire pressure monitoring system informs drivers when a tire is low on air and then uses the sedan's horn and hazard lights to confirm that the tire has been filled adequately.
This is a classic use of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the innovation method called SIT. Task Unification works by taking a component and assigning it an additional job. That component can be an internal resource (in this case, something on or in the car) or an external resource, something in the vicinity of the car, but not within the manufacturer's control (a passenger, for example). The additional job can be "stolen" from another component or it can be assigned something new.
Suppose you're told that three out of four car accidents happen within 25 miles of your home. Are you safer driving away from home? Based on this statistic alone, most people would assume they are safer. But the picture changes when you consider an important part of this scenario called the base rate. In probability and statistics, the base rate is the underlying probability unconditioned by prior events. Failing to consider the base rate leads to wrong conclusions, known as the base-rate fallacy. In this example, the base rate is the total percentage of driving that happens within 25 miles of your home. Let's assume it is 90%. Given the odds of an accident are only 75% in an area you spend 90% of your time, driving close to home is clearly safer.
Why does this matter in innovation? Understanding the base rate with a product's performance can lead to hidden insights and opportunities.