Category Archives: Innovation Sighting

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency in Swiss Trains

RailwayFrom a distance this newest railway revolution might look like a string of large barrels tied together. But the Stoos Bahn is now the world’s
steepest funicular railway which just opened to the public. Taking over 14 years to build, and climbing at 110% gradient, the Stoos Bahn provides another transportation option for children traveling to school in mountainous Switzerland. And, tourists traveling to car-free Stoos now have another transportation option.

This newest innovation was made possible by using the Attribute Dependency Technique. Attribute Dependency is one of the five innovation methods called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It works by creating (or breaking) a dependency between two attributes of a product or its environment. The Stoos Bahn utilizes this technique by building rotating cabins which allow the floor of the cabins to tilt as the rail incline increases, leaving the passengers on level footing.

As CNN states,

The cabins on the 52 million-Swiss franc ($52.6 million) funicular in the Swiss alpine resort of Stoos resemble rotating drums that keep passengers level as the gradient changes. The 1,720-meter track will run from the valley floor near Schwyz to car-free Stoos, which sits on a lofty plateau beneath the Fronalpstock mountain at 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) near Lake Lucerne. The track, which travels through the mountainside for part of its journey, rises 743 meters along gradients as steep as 110%.

 

The Stoos Bahn is just one example of innovating by using a template. It’s true that anyone can learn to create by utilizing the SIT methods. If you would like to get the most out of the Attribute Dependency Technique, follow these steps:

  1. List internal/external variables.
  2. Pair variables (using a 2 x 2 matrix)
  • Internal/internal
  • Internal/external
  1. Create (or break) a dependency between the variables.
  2. Visualize the resulting virtual product.
  3. Identify potential user needs.
  4. Modify the product to improve it.

Innovation Sighting: Partial Subtraction for Better Beer Drinking

BeerThe football season is into full swing. And, no doubt, countless beer drinkers experience the ever so frustrating tension of keeping a clear line of sight for that key play of the game without missing a gulp of their favorite brew. The engineers of the TV Beer Mug saw right through the problem (pun intended) by shaving off one side of the mug. By using the Subtraction Technique, the makers of the TV Beer Mug have eased the beer drinking, football watching woes of thousands of fans.

As Gizmodo humorously states,

Taking advantage of cutting-edge physics and engineering breakthroughs that are rarely seen outside of aerospace applications, this remarkable $11 mug looks as if one side has been cleaved clean off—which is the secret to how it works. The other side of the mug that usually blocks the view of your TV is gone, leaving you with a clean line of sight every time you take a swig.

It’s a perfect example of the Subtraction Technique, one of five in the innovation method, Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It’s also a great example of the Closed World Principle. Here’s how it works:

To get the most out of the Subtraction Technique, you follow five steps:

  1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.
  2. Select an essential component and imagine removing it. There are two ways: a. Full Subtraction. The entire component is removed. b. Partial Subtraction. Take one of the features or functions of the component away or diminish it in some way.
  3. Visualize the resulting concept(no matter how strange it seems).
  4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this new product or service, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge? After you’ve considered the concept“as is” (without that essential component), try replacing the function with something from the Closed World (but not with the original component). You can replace the component with either an internal or external component. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values of the revised concept?
  5. If you decide that this new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?

Learn how all five techniques can help you innovate – on demand.

Innovation Sighting: Yet Another Multiplication in Cameras

Camera LensThanks to Light’s newest camera innovation, serious photographers may make it through their upcoming shot lists with a welcomed spring to their step. In attempt to lessen the load of the average DSLR camera, Light created the streamlined L16. Not surprisingly, the innovation of this camera reflects one of the five innovation templates in Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT), the Multiplication Technique.

The Multiplication Technique is defined as copying an element already existing in the product or service but changing it in some counterintuitive way. Many innovations in cameras, including the basis of photography itself, are based on copying a component and then altering it. Utilizing this innovative pattern, Light replaced the typical DSLR lens with 16 smaller lenses, resulting in a compact camera which claims to provide the same quality photos as the standard DSLR.

As described in Tech Crunch:

The Light L16 is so-named because it has 16 camera modules, and it combines images from multiple modules at once to create images with greater depth, clarity, detail, color rendering and general quality than you’d otherwise be able to get out of a device that’s essentially the size of a thick smartphone. The L16’s sample images show depth-of-field and sharpness that would leave many DSLRs in the dust, in fact, which is the whole idea of the multi-module array.

The L16 is just one example of the benefit to creating with the use of innovation templates. To use the Multiplication Technique, begin by listing the components of the product, process, or service. You pick one of those components, make a copy of it. You keep the original component as is, but the copied component is changed. That creates the virtual product. Using Function Follows Form, you look for potential benefits, and you modify or adapt the concept to improve it to yield an innovative idea.

You can view the below video to see the Multiplication Technique at work in the L16.

 

Innovation Sighting: The Subtraction Technique and the No-Huddle Offense

Few activities are more iconic to American football than the huddle. Bill Pennington, in his New York Times article, “Ready, Set, Gone! The N.F.L.’s Disappearing Huddle” thoughtfully fills out the history, the heritage, and the slow disappearance of this classic practice. And while innovation is often thought of in connection to a tangible product, the emerging use of the “no-huddle offense” in football is an excellent example of innovation through the use of the innovation template known as The Subtraction Technique.

The Subtraction Technique is one of the five innovation methods in Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It works by removing an element of the system that seemed essential to identify a new value or benefit. When it comes to the no-huddle offense, teams are removing the essential component, the huddle, and replacing it with hand signals and code words. The benefit? More time on the clock to advance the ball and elevate a team’s chance for a win.

As Pennington explains,

Huddles remain the pervasive norm, but increasingly, many are condensed to several harried seconds, as quarterbacks bolt to the line of scrimmage and rely on hand signals and code words to communicate a new play to teammates as they line up.

This season, some offenses have spent nearly half a game — 25 plays — without stopping to huddle. Many teams’ defensive units huddle even less often. As a trend, it is viewed as inevitable innovation, and most in the N.F.L. expect the pace to quicken in coming seasons, a transformational jolt to an old-style league.

Time will tell whether this innovative strategy will outlive the infamous huddle. But it’s a perfect example of how innovation through templates knows no boundaries.

To get the most out of the Subtraction Technique, you follow five steps:

  1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.
  2. Select an essential component and imagine removing it. There are two ways: a. Full Subtraction. The entire component is removed. b. Partial Subtraction. Take one of the features or functions of the component away or diminish it in some way.
  3. Visualize the resulting concept(no matter how strange it seems).
  4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this new product or service, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge? After you’ve considered the concept“as is” (without that essential component), try replacing the function with something from the Closed World (but not with the original component). You can replace the component with either an internal or external component. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values of the revised concept?
  5. If you decide that this new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?

Learn how all five techniques can help you innovate – on demand.

Innovation Sighting: Task Unification and GladWare Containers

GladWare containers have become a common household item. Most kitchens today have that designated drawer filled to the brim with self-stacking plastic wonders and the infamous lids with the center circle. Those center circles are most convenient, providing an interlocking feature for stacking, as GladWare intended.  


Yet just a week ago, a photo of a typical, everyday moment went viral. A mom packing lunches for her family
snapped a shot of her partially filled GladWare containers, revealing a less-known innovation feature: a lid within a lid.  Who knew all along that Glad’s dressing cups fit up into the larger lid! Not only did the lightbulb come on for tens of thousands of lunch packers, but it revealed an innovation template within the GladWare design: Task Unification.

Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence it’s taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job. Glad, through the integration of a center circle in its lids, created an additional lid for its smaller dressing containers, resulting in an all-in-one packing option.

Fox News shares:

Though Glad has marketed its To-Go Lunch containers as equipped with special “dressing cups that snap into [the] lid,” most have just assumed the circle in the middle of the lid was a design feature, not a built-in dressing holder.

But now that this lunch hack has been revealed, it’s likely that more and more people will be taking advantage of the spill-proof cap storage.

You can also utilize this technique to innovate helpful products. To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

  1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
  2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:
  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function
  1. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.
  2. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
  3. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency and The Total Eclipse of the Sun

Total eclipse stamp imageThe United States Postal Service has just released a “first-of-its-kind” stamp that changes appearance when you touch it. What has inspired this small nugget of innovation? The August 21 total eclipse of the sun. It will be the first total eclipse to be seen in the U.S. mainland since 1979. Even more, a total eclipse has not traveled the entire span of the United States since 1918. Since millions of people hope to witness this historic event, the
USPS decided to commemorate it with a Forever Stamp.

It just so happens that this newly issued stamp is a great example of the Attribute Dependency technique - one of the five innovation methods that make up Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). Attribute Dependency works by creating (or breaking) a dependency between two attributes of a product or its environment. The Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever Stamp works in this way as the picture on the stamp changes when one rubs their thumb over it.

According to the United States Postal Service:

The stamp image is a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, AZ, that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.

In the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink, the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamps will reveal a second image. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the Moon (Espenak also took the photograph of the Full Moon). The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools. 

The stamp is a great example of how SIT methods can be applied to any product, great or small. And, anyone can learn to create by utilizing these innovative methods, including you! If you would like to get the most out of the Attribute Dependency Technique, follow these steps:

  1. List internal/external variables.
  2. Pair variables (using a 2 x 2 matrix)
  • Internal/internal
  • Internal/external
  1. Create (or break) a dependency between the variables.
  2. Visualize the resulting virtual product.
  3. Identify potential user needs.
  4. Modify the product to improve it.

 

 

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency and High Heels

High Heel Blog ImageA great example of the Attribute Dependency Technique can be found at My Place Café & Bar at the Hilton Osaka hotel in Japan. Attribute Dependency is one of the five innovation methods called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It works by creating (or breaking) a dependency between two attributes of a product or its environment. And this technique is helping My Place increase their customer base in a surprising way by offering female customers a discount on their food and drink orders based on the height of their high heels. The higher the heel the greater the discount.

According to Fox News:

To qualify for the promotion, heels must be at least five centimeters (two inches) tall. But the higher the heel, the greater the discount on the bar’s select dining options, craft beer, organic wine and cocktails.

Discounts start at 10 percent off your order, with each additional two centimeters of heel height receiving a better deal.

Heels from seven to nine centimeters get 15 percent off, nine to 11 centimeters 20 percent, 11 to 13 centimeters 25 percent and 13 to 15 centimeters 30 percent. Anyone wearing heels above 15 centimeters (almost 6 inches!) will 40 percent off their bill.

My Place is running its “High Heels Ladies Night Discount” on Thursday nights starting June 15 and it lasts from 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

It’s true that anyone can learn to create by utilizing the SIT methods. If you would like to get the most out of the Attribute Dependency Technique, follow these steps:

  1. List internal/external variables.
  2. Pair variables (using a 2 x 2 matrix)
  • Internal/internal
  • Internal/external
  1. Create (or break) a dependency between the variables.
  2. Visualize the resulting virtual product.
  3. Identify potential user needs.
  4. Modify the product to improve it.

Innovation Sighting: LG’s New Smart Vacuum Doubles as a Home Security System

LG VacuumThe rush to put new technology in the home is heating up like never before. Challengers include Amazon (Echo), Google (Home), and soon we'll have Apple's Siri device. Microsoft can't be far behind.

Now here's a completely different take on home technology, and it's a perfect example of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the S.I.T. innovation method. Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job. The new LG Hom-Bot robotic vacuum does just that. Here's a report from Architectural Digest:

Looking to buy a security system for your home? Consider a vacuum.

LG's newest Hom-Bot robotic vacuum, available this month, merges cleaning and home security into one smartphone-controlled system.

In addition to sweeping up dust and crumbs, the Hom-Bot has front and top-facing cameras that can be accessed through its app at any time. In a true representation of the "smart" vacuum, once it's become accustomed to your home, the Hom-Bot will also automatically snap photos and message them to you if it detects movement in an area of the home or at a time of the day when activity is unusual.

A square-ish rather than rounded shape allows it to edge into tighter corners, and its cameras not only act as a safety measure but also help it more accurately map the room to achieve an efficient cleaning route. Its final feature is a sure appeal to a millennial audience: The vacuum is a rose-hued shade of "metallic gold."

LG's Hom-Bot Turbo+ costs $999 but additional models without cameras retail for $799 and $699.

 To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

  1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
  2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:
  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function
  1. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.
  2. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
  3. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

Innovation Sighting: LG’s New Smart Vacuum Doubles as a Home Security System

LG VacuumThe rush to put new technology in the home is heating up like never before. Challengers include Amazon (Echo), Google (Home), and soon we'll have Apple's Siri device. Microsoft can't be far behind.

Now here's a completely different take on home technology, and it's a perfect example of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the S.I.T. innovation method. Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job. The new LG Hom-Bot robotic vacuum does just that. Here's a report from Architectural Digest:

Looking to buy a security system for your home? Consider a vacuum.

LG's newest Hom-Bot robotic vacuum, available this month, merges cleaning and home security into one smartphone-controlled system.

In addition to sweeping up dust and crumbs, the Hom-Bot has front and top-facing cameras that can be accessed through its app at any time. In a true representation of the "smart" vacuum, once it's become accustomed to your home, the Hom-Bot will also automatically snap photos and message them to you if it detects movement in an area of the home or at a time of the day when activity is unusual.

A square-ish rather than rounded shape allows it to edge into tighter corners, and its cameras not only act as a safety measure but also help it more accurately map the room to achieve an efficient cleaning route. Its final feature is a sure appeal to a millennial audience: The vacuum is a rose-hued shade of "metallic gold."

LG's Hom-Bot Turbo+ costs $999 but additional models without cameras retail for $799 and $699.

 To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

  1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
  2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:
  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function
  1. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.
  2. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
  3. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

Innovation Sighting: The Mahabis Slipper and the Division Technique

We all know the endless kick-on, kick-off routine associated with that perfectly comfortable pair of house slippers. Our days are filled with quick trips to the market, impromptu lunches, and endless dog walks. And one of two scenarios are typically woven into the daily in-and-out saga of life -- either countless episodes of shoe swapping or foregoing those fabulous house shoes to spare extra minutes.

Mahabis slipper 2Mahabis, a shoe company based out of London, set their innovation sites on resolving this daily dilemma by creating the Mahabis slipper. Utilizing the Division Technique, Mahabis created an indoor-outdoor wool slipper made possible by a detachable sole.  According to Mahabis, these soles “flick-on and clip-down in seconds.” By offering convenience, Mahabis hasn’t overlooked quality as they aimed to make a sole that is light and comfortable and provides adequate heel support, grip, and relaxed comfort.

The Mahabis slipper is just one example of the Division technique at work. To get the most out of the Division technique, you follow five basic steps:

  1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.
  2. Divide the product or service in one of three ways:
  • Functional (take a component and rearrange its location or when it appears).
  • Physical (cut the product or one of its components along any physical line and rearrange it).
  • Preserving (divide the product or service into smaller pieces, where each piece still possesses all the characteristics of the whole).
  1. Visualize the new (or changed) product or service.
  2. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
  3. If you decide you have a new product or service that is indeed valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create this new product or perform this new service? Why or why not? Can you refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use all three forms of Division, but you boost your chance of scoring a breakthrough idea if you do.