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jerryking : inventions   24

Polaroid. Walkman. Palm Pilot. iPhone?
Jan. 11, 2019 | WSJ | By John D. Stoll.

The iPhone is arguably the most valuable product in the world, representing the backbone of Apple Inc.’s AAPL -0.98% half-trillion-dollar hardware business and undergirding its software-peddling App store. It remains the envy of consumer-product companies world-wide.

If history is any indication, though, America’s favorite handheld device will someday take up residence with the digital camera, the calculator, the pager, Sony’s Walkman and the Palm Pilot in a museum. Although it’s hard to imagine the iPhone dying, change can sneak up rapidly on contraptions that are deeply entrenched in American culture......“Over time, every franchise dies,” said Nick Santhanam, McKinsey’s Americas practice leader in Silicon Valley. “You can innovate on an amazing mousetrap, but if people eventually don’t want a mousetrap, you’re screwed.” Kodak, Polaroid and Sears are all examples from the recent past of companies that held too tightly to an old idea.....Apple, for the better part of the 2000s, was the master of the next big thing: the iPod, the MacBook Air, the iPad, the iPhone. Apple wasn’t always first, but its products were easier to use, thinner, cooler.

With the success of the iPhone since it arrived on the scene, the next big thing has been harder to find. Apple has had no breakthrough on TV, a modest success with its watch, a stumble in music and a lot of speculation concerning its intentions for autonomous cars or creating original programming. Can Apple’s greatest strength could be its biggest weakness?.....Whatever shape it takes, Apple’s evolution will be closely watched if only because reinvention is so hard to pull off. A decade ago, Nokia’s dominance in handheld devices evaporated after executives failed to create a compelling operating system to make their pricey smartphones more user-friendly. Finnish executives have told me on several occasions that Nokia knew it needed to rapidly change, but lacked the urgency and resources to do it....The Model T almost entirely underpinned Ford Motor Co.’s rise a century ago, when the Detroit auto maker owned roughly half of the U.S. car market. ....Both Ford and Microsoft adapted and survived. Iconic vehicles like Ford’s Mustang coupe or F-150 pickup prove companies can live a productive life after the initial hit product fades. Microsoft’s transition to cloud computing with its Azure product, meanwhile, has vaulted the company back near the top of the race for the title of world’s most valuable company.
Apple  change  CPG  decline  Ford  iPhone  Microsoft  Nokia  reinvention  Tim_Cook  inventions  rapid_change  next_play  Polaroid  digital_cameras 
january 2019 by jerryking
Cool Ways Of Keeping Things Cool People Fixing The World podcast
People Fixing The World « »
Cool Ways of Keeping Things Cool
16 weeks ago 23:18

A vast and expensive system with the sole purpose of keeping things cool exists across the developed world. This “cold chain” includes fridges in kitchens, refrigerated lorries and cold store warehouses for supermarket produce and medicines. It costs billions to run and has a big environmental cost. But in poorer countries, this cold chain is just in its infancy. People are dying as health clinics lack the fridges to keep vaccines safe. New cold chain technology is needed and two inventors think they’ve figured it out. World Hacks looks at their innovative ways of keeping things chilled. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Tom Colls
BBC  cold_storage  inventions  inventors  podcasts  developing_countries 
december 2018 by jerryking
The Chip That Changed the World
Aug. 26, 2018 | WSJ | By Andy Kessler.

Integrated circuits are the greatest invention since fire—or maybe indoor plumbing. The world would be unrecognizable without them. They have bent the curve of history, influencing the economy, government and general human flourishing. The productivity unleashed from silicon computing power disrupted or destroyed everything in its path: retail, music, finance, advertising, travel, manufacturing, health care, energy. It’s hard to find anything Kilby’s invention hasn’t changed.

Now what? Despite the routine media funeral for Moore’s Law, it’s not dead yet. But it is old.......Brace yourself. When Moore’s Law finally gives up the ghost, productivity and economic growth will roll over too—unless. The world needs another Great Bend, another Kilbyesque warp in the cosmos, to drive the economy.

One hope is quantum computing, which isn’t limited by binary 1s and 0s, but instead uses qubits (quantum bits) based on Schrödinger’s quantum mechanics. .......Maybe architecture will keep the growth alive. Twenty years ago, Google created giant parallel computer systems to solve the search problem. The same may be seen for artificial intelligence, which is in its infancy. ......Energy is being disrupted but not fast enough. Where is that battery breakthrough? .........Biocomputing is another fascinating area. We already have gene editing in the form of Crispr. New food supplies and drugs may change how humans live and not die and bend the curve. But.... anything involving biology is painfully slow. ....Computing takes nanoseconds; biology takes days, weeks, even years. Breakthroughs may still come, but experiments take so long that progress lags behind. Still, I’d watch this space closely.
Andy_Kessler  artificial_intelligence  breakthroughs  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  Crispr  game_changers  gene_editing  Gordon_Moore  hard_to_find  history  inventions  miniaturization  molecular_biology  Moore's_Law  Nobel_Prizes  quantum_computing  semiconductors 
august 2018 by jerryking
Like great coffee, good ideas take time to percolate
Tim Harford FEBRUARY 2, 2018.

why do some obviously good idea take so long to spread?

Even if you don’t much care about London’s coffee scene, this is an important question. William Gibson, science fiction author, observed that the future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed....Researchers at the OECD have concluded that within most sectors (for example, coal mining or food retail) there is a large and rising gap in productivity between the typical business and the 100 leading companies in the sector. The leading businesses are nearly 15 times more productive per worker, and almost five times more productive even after adjusting for their use of capital such as buildings, computers and machinery......If there were some way to help good ideas to spread more quickly, more people would have good coffee and much else besides....good ideas can be slow to spread, even when they are straightforward to grasp. In his classic textbook, The Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers points out that many inventions have to cross a cultural divide: the person preaching the good idea is often quite different to the person being preached to. Rogers would probably not have been surprised to see that “not invented here” was a barrier to good practice.....good advice can work, but even good advice wears off. And we can all be resistant to new ideas. The status quo is comfortable, especially for the people who get to call the shots.....An extreme example of resistance to change lies behind the quip that “science advances one funeral at a time”, based on an observation from the physicist Max Planck. A team of economists has studied the evidence from data on academic citations, and found that Planck seems to have been right: the premature death of a star scientist opens up his or her field to productive contributions from outsiders in other domains. People can be so slow to change their minds that we literally have to wait for them to die.

There is an analogy in the marketplace: sometimes old businesses have to die before productivity improves, although that can mean desperate hardship for the workers involved...there is evidence that US industry is becoming less dynamic: there are fewer shocks, and companies respond less to them. The OECD research, too, suggests that the productivity laggards tend to be further behind in markets that are over-regulated or otherwise shielded from competition.

All too often, we don’t pick up good ideas willingly. We grasp for them, in desperation, only when we have no choice (for example, when were facing a crisis, man-made or natural).
barriers_to_adoption  books  cultural_divides  coffee  crisis  customer_adoption  desperation  ideas  ideaviruses  inventions  London  not-invented-here  powerlaw  productivity  science_fiction  status_quo  Tim_Harford  unevenly_distributed  virality  William_Gibson 
february 2018 by jerryking
Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We’re Missing -
DEC. 3, 2017 | The New York Times | David Leonhardt.

societies have a big interest in making sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to become scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs. It’s not only a matter of fairness. Denying opportunities to talented people can end up hurting everyone.

.....Raj a Stanford professor who helps lead the Equality of Opportunity Project.... considered among the most important research efforts in economics today.....The project’s latest paper, out Sunday, looks at who becomes an inventor — and who doesn’t. The results are disturbing....The key phrase in the research paper is “lost Einsteins.” It’s a reference to people who could “have had highly impactful innovations” if they had been able to pursue the opportunities they deserved.....children who excelled in math were far more likely to become inventors. But being a math standout wasn’t enough. Only the top students who also came from high-income families had a decent chance to become an inventor.

This fact may be the starkest: Low-income students who are among the very best math students — those who score in the top 5 percent of all third graders — are no more likely to become inventors than below-average math students from affluent families:

....“There are great differences in innovation rates,” Chetty said. “Those differences don’t seem to be due to innate ability to innovate.” Or as Steve Case — the entrepreneur who’s now investing in regions that venture capital tends to ignore — told me when I called him to discuss the findings: “Creativity is broadly distributed. Opportunity is not.” [or life’s basic truth: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.]
innovation  equality_of_opportunity  Steve_Case  Albert_Einstein  achievement_gaps  affluence  high-income  low-income  mathematics  capitalization  human_potential  inventions  inventiveness  inventors  creativity  quotes  unevenly_distributed 
december 2017 by jerryking
Ad executive Winston Binch preaches the importance of invention - The Globe and Mail
May. 15 2014 | The Globe and Mail | SUSAN KRASHINSKY - MARKETING REPORTER.

Q: You spoke about the way advertising is migrating more toward inventing things – a big trend for advertisers looking to get noticed.

A: Agencies have been making products for a long time. Alcohol brands have been invented by plenty of agencies, for example. But it used to be an idea and you’d outsource the production. What’s different now is a lot more of it is technology, it’s digitally based. That requires new people in the building. ... There’s a lot of talk about invention right now in advertising. It’s startup culture."....The difficult thing is selling [invention/innovation] to clients. A lot of our clients all know they need to do it, and they want to, but it’s hard to find room for it given the demands of their businesses, particularly the Fortune 500s. ... They’re more concerned with short term than long term. Innovation is seen as a long-term thing. And also hasn’t been in marketing organizations; usually IT, product design and R&D, not the marketing side. How do we sell more invention products to our clients?
Susan_Krashinsky  inventions  advertising  advertising_agencies  hard_to_find  data_driven  digital_media  long-term  innovation  ideas  storytelling  experimentation  Fortune_500  product_development  large_companies 
may 2014 by jerryking
The Enemies of Invention | Psychology Today
By Art Markman, Peter Gray, Sian Beilock, Christopher J Sprigman, Kal Raustiala, Peter Bregman, published on May 07, 2013 - last reviewed on May 07, 2013
creativity  innovation  inventions 
june 2013 by jerryking
Deja Vu -
May 21, 2007 | WSJ | Cynthia Crossen

The toughest part of inventing isn't solving problems. It's figuring out which problems are worth the effort...If you made a list of the 2,100 inventions you thought were needed, you would also be painting a profile of yourself. "Invention is really a systematic form of criticism," Mr. Yates wrote, and people tend to criticize the things that annoy them in their daily lives. Mr. Yates, for example, seems to have found most commonplace devices excessively noisy....While Mr. Yates recorded most of his 2,100 inventions in no particular order, he did make a top-10 list that proves he wasn't a trivial thinker. His top-three needed inventions all concerned energy -- a way to transform energy into power with less waste, a more efficient way to store energy and better light bulbs.

Mr. Yates, a self-taught engineer, inventor and technical writer, tried to nudge other inventors in the right direction with his book, "2100 Needed Inventions." Published by Wilfred Funk Inc., Mr. Yates's book was a list of ways people could alleviate certain nuisances and defects of life and get rich for their trouble. "We often see clever and simple devices for sale which cause us to chastise ourselves with some such remark as, 'Why I could have thought of that years ago and made a lot of money with it!' Certainly you could have -- but you didn't."
critical_thinking  criticism  discernment  frictions  inventions  inventiveness  inventors  negative_space  pain_points  personal_enrichment  problem_solving  systematic_approaches  unarticulated_desires  worthiness  worthwhile_problems 
june 2012 by jerryking
Innovation and the Bell Labs Miracle
February 25, 2012

Why study Bell Labs? It offers a number of lessons about how our country’s technology companies — and our country’s longstanding innovative edge — actually came about. Yet Bell Labs also presents a more encompassing and ambitious approach to innovation than what prevails today. Its staff worked on the incremental improvements necessary for a complex national communications network while simultaneously thinking far ahead, toward the most revolutionary inventions imaginable.

Indeed, in the search for innovative models to address seemingly intractable problems like climate change, we would do well to consider Bell Labs’ example — an effort that rivals the Apollo program and the Manhattan Project in size, scope and expense. Its mission, and its great triumph, was to connect all of us, and all of our new machines, together....Consider what Bell Labs achieved. For a long stretch of the 20th century, it was the most innovative scientific organization in the world. On any list of its inventions, the most notable is probably the transistor, invented in 1947, which is now the building block of all digital products and contemporary life. These tiny devices can accomplish a multitude of tasks. The most basic is the amplification of an electric signal. But with small bursts of electricity, transistors can be switched on and off, and effectively be made to represent a “bit” of information, which is digitally expressed as a 1 or 0. Billions of transistors now reside on the chips that power our phones and computers.

Bell Labs produced a startling array of other innovations, too. The silicon solar cell, the precursor of all solar-powered devices, was invented there. Two of its researchers were awarded the first patent for a laser, and colleagues built a host of early prototypes. (Every DVD player has a laser, about the size of a grain of rice, akin to the kind invented at Bell Labs.)

Bell Labs created and developed the first communications satellites; the theory and development of digital communications; and the first cellular telephone systems. What’s known as the charge-coupled device, or CCD, was created there and now forms the basis for digital photography.

Bell Labs also built the first fiber optic cable systems and subsequently created inventions to enable gigabytes of data to zip around the globe. It was no slouch in programming, either. Its computer scientists developed Unix and C, which form the basis for today’s most essential operating systems and computer languages.

And these are just a few of the practical technologies. Some Bell Labs researchers composed papers that significantly extended the boundaries of physics, chemistry, astronomy and mathematics. Other Bell Labs engineers focused on creating extraordinary new processes (rather than new products) for Ma Bell’s industrial plants. In fact, “quality control” — the statistical analysis now used around the world as a method to ensure high-quality manufactured products — was first applied by Bell Labs mathematicians.
innovation  history  AT&T  Bell_Labs  R&D  lessons_learned  incrementalism  breakthroughs  quality_control  inventions  moonshots  trailblazers  digitalization  high-quality 
february 2012 by jerryking
The Most Powerful Idea in the World
In less than a century, in a single place, human welfare and
prosperity, which had barely changed in the preceding 10,000 years,
entered an era of sustained and explosive growth that continues to this
day. The moment did not occur in 2nd century Alexandria, or 12th century
China, or Renaissance Italy, but in 18th century Britain; and, as
William Rosen chronicles in his extraordinary new history, the reason
was the power of an idea: that inventors should have ownership of their

The Most Powerful Idea in the World is the story of that idea as
expressed in the “biography” of a single invention: the steam engine.
How it came to be born; how it grew to power factories, drive other
inventions, and carry people and freight, by rail and by sea
18th_century  book_reviews  Industrial_Revolution  United_Kingdom  inventors  patent_law  patents  books  ideas  inventions  industrial_age  steam_engine  James_Watts 
december 2010 by jerryking
It’s innovation that matters
June 11, 2010 | The Globe & Mail | by Roger Martin, Dean -
Rotman, U of T, Chair - Institute for Competitiveness &Prosperity.
Our public policies designed to increase innovation aren’t working –
and this is because we confuse “innovation” with “invention.” The terms
are actually very different. Invention can be defined as “creation or
discovery of something new to the world,” often producer-driven,
following an inventor’s curiosity or expertise. While new, inventions
may not have any real use. Innovation is customer-driven, providing a
new product or process that adds value to somebody’s life. Innovations
improve economic or social well-being. Innovations are often built from
inventions....Innovation creates value in several ways, such as enabling
consumers to do something that had been impossible or difficult, or at a
lower cost, either by delivering the same benefits as existing
offerings, but at a lower price, or by maintaining the price but
reducing the overall costs of use.
innovation  innovation_policies  Roger_Martin  Rotman  uToronto  Four_Seasons  Harlequin  Manulife  public_policy  inventions  customer-driven  demand-driven 
june 2010 by jerryking
The Role Of Abundance In Innovation | Techdirt
May 29th 2009 | Techdirt | by Mike Masnick

abundance, innovation, invention, patents

The Role Of Abundance In Innovation
from the it-increases-it... dept

A few weeks back, Dennis wrote about a recent Malcolm Gladwell article
in the New Yorker about innovation, but I was just shown another article
from the same issue, by Adam Gropnik, which may be even more
interesting. Gopnik points to evidence challenging the idea that
"necessity is the mother of invention," by noting that more innovation
seems to occur in times of abundance, rather than times of hardship. The idea is that in times of hardship you're just focused on getting through the day. You don't have time to experiment and try to improve things -- you make do with what you have. It's in times of plenty that people finally have time to mess around and experiment, invent and then innovate.
abundance  innovation  scarcity  patents  Mike_Masnick  inventions  constraints  hardships 
july 2009 by jerryking

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