Archive for June, 2012

Instant cast: Just add air!

June 26, 2012 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos

Have you ever been injured while camping, playing sport, traveling, or during a busy holiday weekend? Anyone who has ever had to seek medical attention for a break or sprain knows how difficult it can be to find immediate relief in a busy emergency room waiting area.

Of course, professional medical treatment is important in emergencies. And a bad break requires a doctor’s care. But for those who can’t get to an emergency room quickly, this is a great option. Just as people can stop bleeding by dressing their own cuts with butterfly-style bandages, I’ve often thought that there ought to be a DIY-type cast that anyone, anywhere can use.

Now a Japanese company, Kinoshita Kogyo, has produced the Multiprotector, an inflatable device you can activate by blowing into a straw. The Multiprotector serves the same purpose as a plaster cast.


Courtesy of Kinoshita Kogyo

You can use it to stop bleeding or stabilize a sprain or broken bone, until you can get professional medical treatment. Doctors will tell you that it’s critical to immobilize the injured area as soon as possible so that you don’t make the injury worse or do permanent damage.

The Multiprotector is sold under the product name Air Gibbs Suiha, and is available in an arm-sized version priced at $47 (or $65 for the leg version).

I wonder if you will begin seeing this innovative cast alongside defibrillators and first aid kits?

Commerce has seen its share of innovation

June 20, 2012 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Consumer "Identity"
English: 'I'm Lovin It' — HM1(FMF) Fred Turner...

Innovation with how we represent the results of our hard earned labor — money — and how we transact business with it has been going on for thousands of years.

Metal coins for commerce go back to the third century B.C. and paper money was introduced by Kublai Kahn in the 1200s. The disruptive idea of using paper money rather than intrinsically valuable gold coins seemed magical when it was observed by visitors to China from the West. It was an abstraction to use something for trade that merely represented value, and it was radical.

Today, that abstraction continues.

Unless you are hiding your savings in your mattress or buying lots of gold coins, virtually all of your monetary wealth is, well, virtual. Your savings really aren’t anything even as physical as currency. The results of our labor and our spending habits exist as numerical bits of data stored on magnetic disks somewhere in far-away networked computer servers.

It all works, but only because of systems that governments, institutions and consumers have all agreed to abide by, and moreover because of the faith people have in those systems.

In everyday life, as computer technology advances, we are using less and less cash for our transactions. We have been using checks for many years. More recently we have become comfortable with using credit cards or debit cards that either add to our debts or subtract from our surplus.

With the ubiquity of mobile smartphones, it is natural to think that the evolution of currency will soon include using your phone for transacting business. This is actually happening now. At Starbucks you can pay using your Starbucks App, where your phone basically stands in for a prepaid debit card. Perhaps it won’t be long before you can hold your phone next to someone else’s and exchange money effortlessly over a Bluetooth connection.

The abstraction of money continues along an unconventional path with the development of currencies that aren’t even backed by any national government. There is an internet currency called Bitcoin that is being introduced gradually, and is created basically out of thin air. Google is toying with the idea of developing their own currency. And there are others.

The key to success for any of these currencies is that it be accepted and used enough so that a faith develops that it has value. It also must be difficult to counterfeit. Attempts at fraud will always be there, but the level must be kept low enough that the faith in the value isn’t lost.

Even with all these changes, the demise of cash might still be a ways off in the future. First of all who wants to use a credit card for small dollar or two transactions? However maybe that’s just my generation talking — I know my young college son certainly has his share of under $10 credit card transactions. Also, for whatever reasons, there are a certain percentage of people that would like their transactions to be anonymous. That will probably never change.

We don’t know where all these innovations will lead, but the trend is toward even more abstraction with money. Perhaps one day coins and paper money will go by the wayside like the old typewritten memorandum has in today’s email and text message society.

Crowdsourcing to find the cheapest airfare

June 16, 2012 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

Deutsch: MeerThe crowds continue to provide wisdom when it comes to consumer desires and that’s very true in the travel industry. Lots of travel sites out there offer to find consumers the cheapest flights. Most of them use search engines to find those cut-rate fares. But one organization, Australian Flightfox, goes to their crowds to save travelers on airfare. And they do it by using a friendly little competition.

First, users of Flightfox create a contest on the site for the trip they want to take. Once posted, Flightfox’s competing “flight hackers” scour the web to look for the best deals. Most of these hackers are experts at finding cut-rate fees, lower taxes and surcharges, and more. When the user books his or her flight, the winning contestant gets a finders fee.

Innovative office chair design eases “sitting disease”

June 11, 2012 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

Courtesy: Focal

We all do a lot of sitting. In our daily work routine it seems there is barely enough time to move from office chair to airplane seat to the conference room before fatigue and poor health begin to take a toll on our bodies.  It’s becoming a dangerous epidemic and an occupational hazard for those who must sit for long hours.

As I was browsing through Business Insider a few days ago, I saw this new concept from Focal: an upright furniture design that’s helping to end  “sitting disease” and all of the aches and injuries we can get from sitting too much on the job.

The design changes your posture and, while perhaps awkward, will give the user a break from the standard office chair.

The limited edition seats and desks cost between $500 and $950, but could go as high as $1,150 if the idea turns out to be something consumers will go for. Read more here.




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Let the crowd weigh in on creative ideas

June 7, 2012 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Crowdsourcing

Today there are so many ways available to share information. Collaboration and social dissemination of information are done through a variety of means including workshops, focus group sessions, communities of practice, teleconferences, video conferencing, net meetings, idea portholes and Web applications.

Many corporations have also gotten a taste of the success that can come from leveraging the tools and capabilities of social platforms and allowing the “crowd” to help them innovate.

Here are a few case studies:

Coca-Cola-owned Glaceau vitamin water took notice of the popularity of its Facebook page and tapped the crowd for inspiration. The company created a “Flavor Creator Lab” to come up with a brand new variety of drink. This was a three-month, three-step program that allowed developers to have a two-way conversation with their consumers.

The winning flavor — named “Connect” — hit shop shelves in 2010. It was made by fans, for fans. Coke provided them the tools to develop something they were passionate about. vitamin water was among the first brand to use social networking to give fans such level of control over product innovation.

Last year Fiat took the concept of crowdsourcing to the next level by inviting customers and car enthusiasts to help design the new Fiat Mio. Rather than honing the details behind closed doors to prevent competitors from stealing ideas, Fiat actually exposed the design process for the entire world to view in real time.

Anyone could log onto the site and check out the videos of the ongoing developments being made to the car, discuss with other participants what they like, disliked, or thought could be improved on. Submissions included an idea to have wheels that rotate 90 degrees to allow for easier parallel parking, using cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, and developing inter-vehicle communication mechanisms to avoid collision.

Since the project began, several million unique visitors have logged in, and thousands of comments and idea submissions have poured in. The presentation of the Fiat Mio was the conceptual highlight of last year’s motor show, where attendees saw and learned about the world’s first collaborative car.

These are just a couple of the examples that are embracing social collaboration as a means to help companies, groups and individuals interact and share information to achieve a common goal. Identifying and targeting the appropriate groups and collaboration spaces to direct messages and achieve results is a modern marketing battlefield.

Don’t neglect to explore the possibilities.

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Charge your phone from…your shoe?

June 5, 2012 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

We’re seeing more and more innovative ways inventors are finding to charge our battery-operated devices. Creative charging methods include a pedal-powered table, a charging handbag or a USB-equipped urban bicycle!

News from Kenya reports an entrepreneur has now developed a tiny chip inserted in the sole of a shoe that can charge the wearer’s cell phone.

The chip is made up of thin crystals, insertable into the sole of just about any shoe. As you walk around throughout your day, the chip gathers and stores energy. You simply connect your phone to a thin extension cable that runs from your shoe to a pocket.

The chip charger was featured last month at the Science and Innovation Week in Nairobi. Kenya’s National Council of Science and Technology has provided massive funding to begin production on a large scale.