A Fresh Approach to Future Innovation

by Paul Hobcraft

A Fresh Approach to Future Innovation
We need to constantly renew within ourselves. There is a time when your innovation efforts may need a serious renewal and for many this might be now. Knowing when to invest in an innovation renewal and organizing for it is like any other organizational activity.

Those that are honest enough to admit that what they have achieved to-date in innovation activity is just not going to ‘cut it’ for the future will be making a very ‘tough’ call but it might be one of the best ones you are about to make. I think we all need to think of a renewal of innovation as essential in our thinking as over time many things have changed and moved on. We need not just to adjust in our objectives but more importantly to adapt and acknowledge that our innovation understanding has greatly improved, so we need to reflect this in our innovation structures, processes and systems. Continue reading


“Thimble”: Another smartphone enabled concept for the visually impaired


You might recall the very impressive “Blinput” concept by Scotland-based design student Erik Hals from earlier this month. Well now it seems that the visually impaired could be spoiled for choice with student design projects, as University of Washington design students Erik Hedberg and Zack Bennet offer up another, potential revolutionary, smartphone application for the blind. Continue reading

To Innovate, You Need the Courage to Step Backward

When we think of innovation, we tend to associate it with forward motion. We may envision it as a leap ahead—a radical breakthrough that happens quickly—or, more realistically, as a steady march forward, during which a series of small advances and refinements eventually lead to a desired outcome.

But in observing a number of leading designers and innovators over the past couple of years (including individuals such as Yves Behar, Bruce Mau, and Dean Kamen, and firms such as IDEO and Smart Design), what has struck me is how often these change-makers seem to be moving sideways and even backwards, in addition to moving forward. In my own head, I’ve started to think of this as a kind of “catalyst’s dance”—with the most common version of it being a nifty (and quite difficult) four-step. Continue reading

Modai cellphone forges emotional bond between user and electronics

modai cellphone concept

The trend

With majority of cellphone users looking for multiple functions in mobile handsets, the focus of smartphone designers has been shifting toward touch-sensitive phones that can meet communication as well as multimedia needs through a single device. The popularity of touch-sensitive handsets can well be measured with the fact that over 20 different touchscreen-enabled phones, though with diverse form and functions, have been released in past two years. Taking the mobile phone technology, evolving day after day, to a new level, designer Julius Tarng has come up with an innovative cellphone called the “Modai” that seems to forge emotional bonds between the user and electronic devices by persuading human behaviors and pushing the limits of mobile technology.

Video after the break. Continue reading

Voim Smartphone for the Visually Impaired

Voim (seeing in Korean) is a smartphone concept for the blind that includes functions to make communication easier. It features route navigation, word recognition and object identification, which are displayed as braille on a silicon screen or transmitted as audio cues via the detachable bluetooth headset. Although smartphone applications & braille cell phones do exists, a full-fledged concept like this is a ways away.

Designers: Youngseong Kim & Eunsol Yeom

Continue reading

What limits innovation in established companies?

Sometimes, as an artist or writer you have a great idea and you have the chance to be part of the creation.  Sometimes you’ll find that others have beaten you to the idea, and your job is to extend the idea, improve it and make others aware of the original contribution and your offerings.

Some days I’m a creator.  Some days, today for instance, I’m publicizing Gary Hamel’s recent post in the Wall Street Journal about Innovation.  Not that Gary needs a significant amount of assistance with publicity, but when someone gets it right, we need to point it out. Not with a flashlight but with a search light so everyone can see. Continue reading

The Era of the Thinking Phone

Nokia has introduced a cellphone app that could usher in a new wave of “thinking” phones: Nokia Situations essentially transforms a phone depending on the situation or location of its user. While still in an experimental phase, Nokia Situations aims to “define how you want your phone to behave in different situations.”

The Nokia Blog explains:

We have created an experimental application called Nokia Situations which you can use to define how you want your phone to behave in different situations, like “In a meeting”, “Sleeping”, or “Playing with the kids”.  With the application running in the background, your device automatically senses the situation you are in (e.g. based on time, day, location, available networks) and adapts to it according to your preferences.