The iPhone is an incredible platform for innovation. As it becomes more popular, it invites even more innovation. Many of the iPhone's functions demonstrate the Task Unification template of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. Task Unification is a pattern of that assigns an additional job to an existing resource or component within a product or service. To use Task Unification is practice, we start by listing the components of the product or service. Then we assign non-intuitive tasks to some of the components randomly. The idea is to create weird, ambiguous "virtual products" that don't seem to make any sense. Then we work backwards from this hypothetical "solution" to a possible problem that it addresses. Linking the solution to a problem creates an idea.
One way to develop your expertise in SIT techniques is with pattern spotting. A key premise of SIT is that for thousands of years, innovators have used patterns in their inventions, usually without even realizing it. Those patterns are now embedded into the products and services you see around you, almost like the DNA of a product. You want to develop your ability to see these patterns as a way to improve your use of them.
There's probably no better place to practice pattern spotting than at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). In last week's CES in Las Vegas, "manufacturers demonstrated a range of previously mundane but now smart, web-connected products destined to become part of daily domestic existence, from kitchen appliances to baby monitors to sports equipment," as reported in The Independent.
As a teacher, it's always rewarding to see my students create ideas that eventually make it into the marketplace. Here are some great innovations for the kitchen oven that a group of students created last year, January 2014. Later, we'll compare these to the new innovations announced by Whirlpool at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show.