Innovation365 Robits and toys

Today's innovation comes from Lego Mindstorms.

What is innovative? This product provides tools for kids to develop robots! How cool is that? There is no welding, high powered servos, or other dangerous equipment. It connects to your lego toys already in the toy bin, and it is programmable. Look at what people have done with these robots:
What is more interesting is the ideation approach Lego is taking with its new release of Mindstorms NXT. See the Wired article Geeks in Toyland. This is a great example of tapping the minds of the external network, sometimes called open source innovation.

Innovation365 Magnetic locks

Today's innovation comes from MacBook Pro.

What is innovative? The power cord of the Apple MacBook Pro has a magnetic connector that allows for safe and clean break away when someone walks by your MacBook and trips over the power cord.

Why is this innovative? It takes a very common problem, simple materials, and presents a solution that says "Duh, why did I not think of this myself?". So, tripping over a power cord won’t send your MacBook Pro flying off the table or desk.

Innovation365 Ant farms advanced

Today's innovation comes from AntWorks.

What is innovative? I have been an ant farm person for about 10 years. I buy the Uncle Milton's ant farms every year along with a tube or two of ants and watch them dig in the "dirt" (really light foaming grit). With the Uncle Milton's ant farms you have a water and feed schedule you need to follow. Too much water and you'll get a fungi farm competing with the ants for space. Too much food does the same thing.

This last year (2005) my wife bought me the AntWorks ant farm. What is innovative about this? Well the kit is prefilled with a special gel that contains the nutrients and water needs for the ants; no water/feed schedule needed! The kit being prefilled is a nicety as filling the Uncle Milton's farms does require poring the sand grit. The AntWorks farms is wider and deeper that standard Uncle Milton's farms. And the coolest part of all is that the tunnels in AntWorks are visible in all their 3D glory:)

Of course, innovation and product differentiation has its cost: AntWorks costs $19.95US and Uncle Milton's mini ant farm is about $14.00US. The supplies for Uncle Milton's adds a few dollars. And Uncle Milton's farms are reusable.

But AntWorks is cool! $5.00US more cool? At least once or twice.

Innovation365 twist normal to get innovation.

Today's innovation comes from Bob Nardelli is Watching.

What is innovative? What I found innovative was the approach to opening a new store. The Home Depot team took a traditional store opening event activity (cutting the ribbon) and turned it into a "board cutting" ceremony (a commemorative piece of lumber is sawed in half). Why is this innovative? It is an unexpected twist on a standard event and it uses material that is core to Home Depot! What better way to remember the event of a hardware and supply store than with a piece of lumber.

This could be taken further by cutting the board into smaller pieces and giving them away. In other industries, say John Dear tractors, the traditional ceremony of digging the first dirt could be changed to a John Dear tractor and plow coming through to turn the dirt.

This is a great example of taking standard (possibly boring?) things and twisting them a bit to create a distinct memory or a unique association.

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