- Disney Research unveils a project to help you connect anything to anything else, basically. Watch the video- it's pretty amazing. One exciting possibility is enabling "fringe users" to develop solutions for themselves in cases where the market may be too small or fractured for a company to justify the costs of tooling, assembly and distribution. 3D printing has long been heralded as a technology that "democratizes design" but access, CAD modeling skills and time required for the input part of that equation hasn't caught up. This project looks like it could change that equation.
- Companies frequently miss business opportunities because of stereotypes creeping into their design and product development efforts - e.g. "older adults don't care about style, just comfort." NPR's story on the booming business in stylish and comfortable footwear proves otherwise. There are huge market opportunities for products that respect their users identities and interests, instead of merely "solving a problem."
- Imaging startup Body Labs just raised $ 8 million to continue developing theirbody scanning/measuring tools. With wearable technology getting smaller, softer, and more pervasive, what Body Labs is building could be a boon to apparel companies that are ready to step fully into the 21st century.
Feeding the Future:
- Grove Labs just put their aquaponics device for the home on kickstarter and it's doing amazingly well. It's an interesting product category development or extension (is it fair to call it a kitchen appliance?) and would certainly be welcome during long winters or remote areas where fresh, quality herbs and produce are hard to come by.
- Some interesting agriculture-specific robotics solutions are being designed and developed by farmers in South Dakota, instead of college research labs or tech-hub cities.
- Like many high impact design solutions, the cardboard bedroom furniture set is far from pretty. If companies like IKEA, Target, Walmart and others really want to make a difference on their sustainability efforts and carbon footprints, they would do well to invest in the design, development and marketing of projects like this instead of heavy, but ultimately not much more durable particle board products we are all familiar with.
- Prefab housing from Muji looks habitable and stylish in its simplicity, more cabin and less trailer.
Machines for Moving:
- Terrestrial, six-wheeled vehicles for delivering packages to your door, from the founders of Skype. We think they are underestimating the creative ways in which people could mess with their friendly looking robots, but in many ways it makes more sense than drones in the sky. For now, there are too many psychological and logistical sticking points for air-based drones to get implemented in the U.S. for something like parcel delivery.
More next week.