The LAB: Innovation for Couch Potatoes (December 2011)

This month’s LAB features a former student of mine, Ryan Rosensweig.  Ryan is the first business-design hybrid from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. He earned his master’s degree in design after completing his bachelor’s degree in marketing, sustainable urban engineering, and interdisciplinary design innovation. As the graduate assistant for Associate Dean Craig M. Vogel, of DAAP’s Center for Design Research and Innovation, Ryan researched educational models for interdisciplinary innovation, the interaction between design methodologies and business strategy.

Take a look at his portfolio here.

I had the pleasure of teaching Ryan how to use Systematic Inventive Thinking when he attended my Innovation Tools graduate course.  The final exam required students to correctly apply all five techniques of S.I.T. to an item assigned to them randomly.

Let’s look at Ryan’s final exam – innovating a couch!

Couch 11.  SUBTRACTION: Removing an essential component

  • Virtual Product:  The frame of the hide-away couch is subtracted.
  • Concept:  The hide-away mattress supported by the arm rests that swing down as the mattress is pulled out (see sketch).
  • Potential Benefits:  Easier to convert to a bed for busy people on the go or people with disabilities.

2.  MULTIPLICATION: Making a copy of a component but changing it in some way

  • Virtual Product:  A couch with two sets of legs; the second set is located on the back of the couch.
  • Concept:  The Lazy Sofa – a couch that rotates forward and backward. As it rotates backward, the legs on the back of the couch support it.
  • Potential Benefits:  Now the couch can face two directions easily.  It does not have to be anchored against a wall.  It is a simple solution that allows more flexibility in large rooms.

Couch 23.  TASK UNIFICATION:  Assigning an additional task to an existing resource

  • Virtual Product:  The family pet has the additional task of pulling out the hide-away mattress.
  • Concept:  A pet-friendly couch that has a small mat underneath that the dog can pull out and lay on.
  • Potential Benefits:  Avoids having the dog sit on the main part of the couch, eliminating dog hair and odor.

4.  DIVISION:  Dividing a product or component either physically, functionally, or preserving (maintaining characteristics of the whole)

  • Virtual Product:  The arm rests physically split in two
  • Concept:  Armrests that automatically open up when the hideaway mattress is pulled out to reveal amenities like a reading light, alarm clock, and so on.
  • Potential Benefits:  Space-saving, convenient, guest-friendly

5.  ATTRIBUTE DEPENDENCY:  Creating (or breaking) dependencies between two internal attributes or an internal and external attribute.

  • Virtual Product:  The older the person sitting, the softer the couch becomes.
  • Concept:  Smart Couch – a sofa that adjusts automatically to the preferences of the person sitting on it.
  • Potential Benefits:  Comfort.