A couple of days ago I went to a SUP46 event together with Marjolein. The event – organized by Microsoft – hosted guest speaker Bill Buxton who talked about “the myth of innovation”. According to Buxton sudden, unexpected inventions do not exist and overnight successes take 20 years to be created. He adds that big, ground-breaking inventions do not exist. Every creation is only a stepping stone in the innovation process. An example is the myth of the lone inventor surrounding Edison. Edison is seen as one of the greatest inventors of mankind, inventing one big thing after another. But if he really was such a great inventor, why did he have so many people working for him in his workshop?

Innovation doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long, hard and foremost expensive process which can be represented by the below graph. The graph – also called “the long nose of innovation” represents the timeline from the original creation of an idea to a billion dollar company thriving of the invention. As one can notice in the graph, things move very slowly and innovation happens mostly under the radar. At a certain point the innovation becomes known and gets successful.


                   (Source: http://slideplayer.fr/slide/9079573/)

An example is the invention of the Capacitive Multi-touch devices. The technology was invented, but yet for about 20 years no one knew about it until IPhone brought it from under the radar. In other words, innovation is all about timing. Technologies that will be popular in 10 years are already 10 years old. In order to invent, one must know its history. Innovation is a combination between finding – or prospecting – ideas, together with making your own.

I think the best example of the repetition of the past is the one of the IPod G4. Look at the pictures below. The top picture shows the Braun t3, one of the first radio players, while on the bottom you can see the IPod G4, one of the first generations of the IPod. It soon becomes clear where Apple was looking for its design ideas, right?

Source: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/design/articles/2013/august/27/did-dieter-ramss-t3-inspire-this-new-radio/

                        (Source: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/design/articles/2013/august/27/did-dieter-ramss-t3-inspire-this-new-radio/)



                         (Source: http://tuxtops.com/node/2443)

In the end, I really liked this presentation. I am sure it will stick with me for the next couple of years. “To know the future, one must know its own past”!

Liked it? Why not to share then?

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation