The LAB: Innovating the iPad with Attribute Dependency (January 2010)

Innovation Sighting: Task Unification with the iPhone
January 25, 2010
Innovation and Reputation
February 8, 2010

The LAB: Innovating the iPad with Attribute Dependency (January 2010)

Apple's iPad creates a new category of consumer electronic somewhere between smart phones and notebook computers. Success depends on how well it embeds into our everyday routines at work, home, and elsewhere. Success also depends on how well it creates new routines. A great innovation tool for this is the Attribute Dependency template of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. This template creates (or breaks) dependencies between attributes of the product and the external environment. The iPad already has many of these. My favorite, for example, is the ability to show the correct display no matter how you hold the device. There is no up or down. It is an example of breaking a dependency between screen orientation and device orientation.

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Apple’s iPad creates a new category of consumer electronic somewhere between smart phones and notebook computers.  Success depends on how well it embeds into our everyday routines at work, home, and elsewhere.   Success also depends on how well it creates new routines.  A great innovation tool for this is the Attribute Dependency template of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T..  This template creates (or breaks) dependencies between attributes of the product and the external environment.  The iPad already has many of these.  My favorite, for example, is the ability to show the correct display no matter how you hold the device.  There is no up or down.  It is an example of breaking a dependency between screen orientation and device orientation.

To use Attribute Dependency, make two lists.  The first is a list of internal attributes of the iPad.  The second is a list of external attributes – those factors that are not under the control of the manufacturer, but that vary in the context of how the product or service is used.  Then create a matrix with the internal and external attributes on one axis, and the internal attributes only on the other axis.  The matrix creates combinations of internal-to-internal and internal-to-external attributes that we will use to innovate.  We take these virtual combinations and envision them in two ways.  If no dependency exists between the attributes, we create one.  If a dependency exists, we break it.  Using Function Follows Form, we envision what the benefit or potential value might be from the new (or broken) dependency between the two attributes.

I created a matrix when demonstrating the use of Attribute Dependency on the iPhone.  To save time, I am going to use the same matrix for the iPad.

Here are five new innovations for the iPad along with the attribute dependencies that led to the idea:

1.  LOCATION-JOB TYPE:  The iPad has GPS, so it knows what room it’s in at home or the office.  Once it senses its location, it automatically loads the application or screen display that is most suited for that location.  Alternatively, the iPad could default back to the last application that was in use at that particular location.  So if you walk into the kitchen with your iPad, it would automatically pull up the menu application.  If you walk into your boss’s office, it pulls up apps and information related to work.

2.  USER-MUSIC SOURCE:  The iPad will become a family appliance like many others in the home now (TV, microwave, etc).  Unlike other appliances, the iPad will sense which family member is using it (by touchpad sensors), and adjust settings such as source of music, font styles, multi-touch behavior, apps, etc.

3.  BATTERY LIFE-TIME:  Same as the iPhone idea, the user can switch to a “battery conservation mode” that will power down features not needed (color screen goes to black and white, wi-fi off, vibration off).  Or, the iPad does it automatically depending on time of day such as at nighttime.  For travelers who like to keep the device on all night in their hotel room, this would save time and battery life.

4.  FUNCTION-TIME:  The iPad knows what day of week it is, so it would adjust its settings and functions to that day of week.  The “Sunday” iPad acts and works differently than the “Friday” iPad.  It knows our routines day-by-day, and it adjusts to an optimal configuration accordingly.

5. LINKAGES-VIDEO QUALITY:  As the linkages to things like email, SMS, YouTube, etc. change, so does the video quality.  This is an odd one because you would think the user would want the same video quality for everything. Perhaps the advantage here is that the screen optimizes size, resolution, brightness, and other qualities to adjust to the application being used.