Category Archives: Task Unification

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: 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: Pearl RearVision Backup Camera and Alert System

RearVision how it worksBacking up your car in those crammed, hard-to-see spaces just got safer and easier, thanks to Pearl Automation’s innovative use of the Task Unification Technique. 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.

RearVision provides a great example of this SIT technique at work. By adding a solar powered HD camera to the standard license plate frame, Pearl turned this humdrum car accessory into a rear-viewing camera. The theft resistant camera frame installs securely around your license plate and connects wirelessly to a car adapter in your ODP port. The adapter pairs with your mounted smart phone, transforming it into a rear-viewing screen.

TechCrunch shares:

Once connected, the RearVision app in landscape will show you a full-screen view of what the cameras in the license plate holder is seeing, with a 175-degree viewing angle. You can toggle between the full fish-eye experience, or a warp-corrected view that fills the display corner-to-corner with the space behind your car. You can also pivot the view up or down to get a better look at more of the sky, or more of the ground as needed.

RearVision mounted phoneYou also can 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?

The SIT Patterns in Thanksgiving Cooking Gadgets

by Darla Wilkinson (darla@drewboyd.com)

 

For many people this week’s Thanksgiving celebration will mean endless shopping, prepping, and cooking in anticipation of the big feast. The hours of slaving away in the kitchen usually seem worth it all once you sit and savor the joy shared by family and friends. And though every dish sprinkled with a pinch of love is the tastiest, none of us would slight a little help in the kitchen in order to make this one-day-a-year dinner a little less stressful for the chef.

So in the spirit of lending a helping hand, I’ve found 5 kitchen gadgets that can easily assist you this Thanksgiving holiday. And it just so happens they demonstrate the five patterns of the innovation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT).

  1. Infrared thermometerSUBTRACTION: The Subtraction Technique works by removing a component, preferably an essential one, then working backwards to imagine what benefits are created by just the remaining components. By removing the standard probe from the thermometer and adding an infrared device, this tool will allow you to see if your turkey is, in fact, ready while keeping your fingertips unburned and agile for other culinary tasks. The thermometer featured is the ThermoHAWK 420 Touchless thermometer.
  1. Triple timerMULTIPLICATION: The Multiplication Technique works by taking a component of the system, copying it, but changing it in some qualitative way. Like Subtraction, you take this new configuration and imagine benefits that it could deliver. The OXO Good Grips Triple Timer has multiplied the time-keeping feature by displaying not one but three timers on the screen. Each timer works independently from the other enabling you to make sure the turkey, potatoes, and pumpkin pie all finish right on time.
  1. Fat separatorTASK UNIFICATION: The Task Unification Technique works by taking an existing component and assigning it an additional job (that of another component or some new task). Holiday gravy demands only the best turkey broth. And thanks to the fat separator a standard liquid measuring cup has been turned into so much more. By adding a stopper to the spout and a filter to the top of the cup, turkey drippings are not only measured, but the fat and skin are filtered, leaving only the luscious broth to be poured out. The OXO Good Grips Fat Separator is featured.
  1. Divided rackDIVISION: The Division Technique works by taking a component of the product or the product itself, then dividing it physically or functionally. You re-arrange the parts to seek new benefits. Nothing spells disaster quite like seeing the Thanksgiving bird tumble to the ground when transferring it from your roasting pan to the cutting board. Thanks to the application of the division technique to the roasting rack, such tragedy can be avoided. By dividing the roasting rack in half lengthwise and attaching them with a pin, a chef can now pull the pen and slip both halves out from under the bird. The rack featured is the Cuisipro Roasting Rack.
  1. Voice activiated listATTRIBUTE DEPENDENCY: The Attribute Dependency Technique works by creating (or breaking) a dependency between two attributes of the product or its environment. As one thing changes, another thing changes. This kitchen gadget can put an end to forgetting that one essential ingredient you remembered while washing the dishes. By pressing the button and speaking into your wall-mounted Smart Shopper, the gadget records each item on the display screen for you. You can later print out a list in a simple receipt form, saving you time from stopping to write down items or typing them in your phone.

Holiday meals will always be a labor of love. But thanks to the timeless templates used by innovators, these gadgets can be handy companions to preparing the best Thanksgiving feast yet.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers!

 

 

Innovation Sighting: Samsung’s Activewash Keeps It Clean Using Task Unification

Samsung Activewash PicThe washing machine is a vital component to every modern-day household. And top-loaders often get lost in today’s sea of front-loading appliances. Using the Task Unification pattern, Samsung’s Activewash with built-in sink holds its own among newly innovated appliances.

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 it an additional job.

The Samsung Activewash is designed with a two-part lid, the bottom portion serving as a sink. This new sink equipped with jets allows you to pre-soak clothing and then slide it in the wash.

Digital Trends comments:

“According to Samsung’s research, 70 percent of the consumers it surveyed pretreat their laundry on top of their washing machines. To the company, a logical step was to make this process easier by adding a sink, complete with water jet and a surface for scrubbing away stains, right into the top of the machine. Enter the Activewash, a new top-loading washer unveiled at CES 2015 with a sink built into the top.  Instead of having to schlep soiled shirts and unwashed unmentionables from the bathroom to the basement, people can now just dunk their dirty clothes into the washer, let them soak, then drop them into the basin via a slot. The water used in the pretreating step isn’t wasted; it goes into the machine, too.”

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: Task Unification and Drug Dispensing Contact Lenses


Contact-lens-dispenses-drug-lowers-eye-pressure-in-glaucoma-patientsMedical device makers have been trying for years to replicate the success of drug-eluting stents - devices that do a particular job while at the same time, delivering a therapeutic drug. Here's a new one that demonstrates the Task Unification pattern. 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 it an additional job.

From UPI:

After 50 years of trying, researchers may have found an effective way to use contact lenses to deliver drugs for conditions treated with eye drops.

Glaucoma patients may soon be able to treat the condition using a lens that slowly releases medication to the eye, with some tests with monkeys suggesting the treatment method could be more effective than the standard eye drops, researchers at Harvard Medical School report in a new study.

The leading cause of irreversible blindness, glaucoma has no cure but doctors attempt to slow its development by prescribing drops for patients. The drops, however, often cause stinging and burning, and may be difficult for some patients to use, if they try to use them at all.

"If we can address the problem of compliance, we may help patients adhere to the therapy necessary to maintain vision in diseases like glaucoma, saving millions from preventable blindness," Dr. Joseph Ciolino, an ophthalmologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and an assistant professor at Harvard, said in a press release. "This study also raises the possibility that we may have an option for glaucoma that's more effective than what we have today."

Using a novel design, researchers created a contact lens with a thin film of drug-encapsulated polymers around its edges. The polymer film slows release of the drug -- previous attempts at a drug-eluting lens released medications far too fast -- while remaining on the side of the lens so its center remains clear for vision.

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

3. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.

4. 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?

5. 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?

 

 

 

Using Systematic Innovation on Digital Assets

Cyt-screen-960x630The SIT method is great for creating exciting new products and services. Now I want to show you how to apply these techniques to digital assets. For example, let’s apply the Attribute Dependency technique to a website. You start by listing the internal and external attributes of the site like the one here. 

Internal:
1. color
2. design
3. graphics
4. information
5. link locations
6. page loading speed
7. contact information
8. length of text

External:
a. number of visitors
b. type of visitors
c. location of visitor
d. SEO page rank
e. search requests
f. type of browser
g. type of computer

Next, randomly pair an external attribute with an internal one. and imagine a relationship between the two attributes. For example, “location of visitor” and “graphics,” meaning how the information is displayed on your website. As the location of the visitor changes, the information and graphics that you display on your website changes. Why would that be valuable? In what situations would it make sense to have that relationship in place?

Think about it. Imagine if your customer is browsing your website right inside one of your retail stores. Perhaps you would change the kind of information and graphics you would use to show your products. What if they were browsing your website from one of your competitor’s stores? Could that change how you display competitive pricing information? What if your customer is browsing within a healthcare facility, or from an airport, or inside a restaurant? Would it change the products, the prices, or other service elements that you display? It just might. Applying attribute dependency can make your website responsive and adaptable. It services your clients better by understanding more about them.

Facebook_like_logo_1Let’s apply this same approach to a social media application. For this example, let’s use Facebook. Here are the internal and external attributes of a Facebook Page.

Internal
1.number of friends
2.wall postings (by you)
3.pokes
4.status
5.years on Facebook
6.gender of friends
7.degree of friendship
8.emotional state
9.nature of friendship
10.age
11.current location
12.current activity
13.photos with other people

External
a.time
b.likes
c.size of friends’ network
d.wall postings (by others)
e.status of friends
f.friend's demographics (age, gender, etc)

Let’s imagine a relationship between “likes” and “wall postings.” There is no relationship there now, so let’s imagine one. For example, as the number of “likes” increases over a particular period of time, your wall postings change. Why would that be beneficial? Perhaps you would put different products or special promotions there once you reach a certain level of likes. In other words, you change how you engage with your customers who visit your Facebook page based on how they engage. A relationship between these two attributes would give you a cue to know when it's appropriate to do something different on your page.

Let’s go further with digital innovation and look at mobile apps and how to apply SIT techniques. For these, I like to use the Task Unification technique. We create a virtual product by saying: the App has the additional job of addressing this business issue. The trick is to pick an app that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue now. That’s where you find some surprising innovations.

Let’s do an example. Imagine your company makes a household product that helps get rid of odors in your home. It’s a spray product that you would use to get rid of odors from your cat or dog. Imagine you're the marketing manager for this product and you want to find creative ways to promote its benefits.

First, find a list of mobile apps. Pick one of these randomly and plug it into the phrase: "the app has the additional job of promoting my product."

Here is an app called Micello, a provider of comprehensive indoor venue mapping. It’s like Google maps only for in indoor spaces like shopping malls or airports. You imagine this app has the additional job of promoting your spray for pet odors. What would be the benefit? How it would work, and how would it increase brand awareness of your product? Suppose this technology is used to create an internal map of your home. What if it could also track where your pet spends its time as it moves from room to room. Perhaps the app creates an odor heat map of where the pet has been so that you know exactly where to spray the product. I love this idea because it’s both functional and it reinforces the brand promise.

Task Unification can help find new uses for existing apps, and it can help you create completely new apps.

Your digital assets are just as important as your products and services. Using the SIT Method will unlock more value for your customers and find new ways to engage them more effectively through digital channels.

 

 

Innovation Sighting: "Sweaty" Billboards That Fight the Zika Virus

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus is a global emergency. To fight it, humans have to find a way to kill the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. 

Two marketing agencies in Brazil have designed a novel way to do just that. They call it The Mosquito Killer Billboard. It's a great example of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the innovation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking. Here's how their innovation works:

The board releases a mixture of a lactic acid solution that mimics the smell of human sweat and carbon dioxide, which is in human breath. Its inventors have released the blueprint for free and are encouraging people around the world to make them. So far, they have installed two of the Mosquito Killer Billboards in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.

From the BBC:

"It's impressive how many mosquitoes you can trap and how many lives you can save with this idea," Otto Frossard from Posterscope told the BBC. Mr Frossard added that the board would cost "a few thousand Reals" (1,000 Brazilian Reals is $280/£194) to make. "I think anything that can be done to reduce the prevalence of the mosquito is a good thing," said Dr Chris Jackson, a pest control expert at the University of Southampton. The insects are drawn to the aroma from the board from a distance of up to 2.5km away, the board's inventors say.

"Particularly devices like this that attract and kill females that feed on blood, as it is only female mosquitoes that bite," he explained. Dr Jackson said that, while the science behind the billboard was effective, putting them in public places and attracting human attention - as well as insects - could be a problem.

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

3. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.

4. 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?

5. 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: Task Unification and the Oombrella

I love umbrellas and the many versions that demonstrate the five patterns of Systematic Inventive Thinking. Here's a new one that demonstrates the Task Unification pattern. 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.

Oombrella is a beautiful smart connected umbrella that alerts you before it rains and sends you a notification if you leave it behind. From their website:

What makes oombrella unique is its notification services that alert you before it rains and if you leave your umbrella behind. ombrella's hyper-local weather data and tracking keep you informed and notified. Yet oombrella is an umbrella. It means that it protects you against the rain, and its ribs make it really wind-resistant.

As an umbrella, it can be adapted to you. This means you can pick the color, go for the Shiny edition, a very elegant White Edition or choose the revisited yet classic Black edition. In terms of size, you can choose too! Go for a classic size or one that fits in your bag.

The good part of oombrella is that you can also track all your activity and see the weather you experienced during your trip. How? Thanks to the sensors that are integrated into the handle: temperature, pressure, humidity and light. We use all this data to create the notifications "Take me with you. It will rain in 15 minutes"

 

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

3. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.

4. 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?

5. 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?