Friday, 8 August 2014


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10 Incredible Innovations Born from Social Media and Crowdsourcing
By Gerri,
Business Pundit, 7 August 2014.

When you’re making a new product, you have to get your market data. No matter how cool or ground-breaking the invention, your product won't sell if you aren’t in touch with what the customer wants.

Traditionally, this is dealt with by beta testing, polls, trust in an inventor’s vision, or iterating through different versions of a product to see what works best. Today, customers can choose exactly what they want - from features, to design, and even price point - through crowd-sourcing.

Crowd-sourcing is the practice of utilizing an engaged audience for labour, media, and without compensation. It’s a way that if your audience wants a particular product, they can make it happen.

1. Solar Roadways

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Solar Roadways have the potential to turn our future roadways into energy producing structures that look like they should be in the movie Tron. They work by embedding solar panels into portions of roads, allowing the materials to pay for themselves over time. LED powered by the stored solar energy paints the lines on the road, allowing for safer night driving. Solar energy stored as heat can act as defroster for frozen roads. In 2009, they received their first contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build a solar road panel prototype. Thanks to a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign, Solar Roadways have now moved on to their stage II prototypes.

The vision for what roadways upgraded to solar would mean includes power for everyone. No more power shortages, less need for fossil fuels and foreign oil, enhanced ability for electric cars to recharge anywhere, and the ability to redraw lanes at any point, as they are simply LED patterns powered by the solar roads.

Check out their promo above.

2. Fiat Mio

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Fiat released their website asking people what they want from a “car of the future” in 2009. Some 11,000 suggestions later, ranging from proposed on-board experience, to how the car interacts with traffic, the Fiat Mio Concept car was born. Community members were also able to participate in choices such as colours the car came in, and door configuration.

While the Fiat Mio has yet to be mass produced, the plans for the car were submitted under creative commons licensing, allowing anyone to make one, including other car makers.

3. Ubuntu Edge

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The Ubuntu Edge is a phone running both Android and Ubuntu’s mobile Linux OS. It’s powerful enough to be plugged into a monitor and work as a stand alone computer. It has near universal network compatibility. It was also the recipient of the most money ever crowd-funded on Indiegogo raising US$12.8 million. This wasn’t quite enough, as the audacious funding goal that would enable mass production was US$32 million. But small batches of similar products will start to be released in 2014.

“Apparently the Ubuntu community is nuts about this idea. Within just under eight hours…some US$2 million in donations to the project have flooded in, making it what’s said to be the fastest and thus perhaps most successful crowd-funding effort ever seen.” - Fast Company

4. Kite Patch

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Mosquitoes track your carbon dioxide. That’s how they find targets, until Kite Patch. This non-toxic skin patch releases compounds that inhibit the neurons in mosquitoes from tracking your carbon dioxide. Brilliant idea?

Yes, and only possible thanks to more than 11,000 backers on Indiegogo.

Kite Patch superseding its funding goal by over 743% for a total of US$557,254 in community funds, but that’s just small change compared to what Kite Patch has planned. An initial large-scale test in Uganda is set to provide over 1,000,000 hours of mosquito deterrence for families suffering from malaria infection rates of over 60%. After EPA approval in the US, backers will begin receiving their anti-mosquito devices as well.

5. Sigmo Voice Translating Device

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Talk about the future being now. The SIGMO Voice Translating Device lets you forget about language barriers, and not in a glitchy Google translate sort of way. SIGMO works in 25 languages in real time, either translating your voice to a foreign tongue, or translating another language to your own.

SIGMO was crowd-sourced on IndieGoGo and raised 1,661% of its fundraising goal for a total of US$249,085. This pocket-sized device can be worn around your neck, clipped to your shirt, or held, and connects to your cell where an app is running via bluetooth.

6. SlideRider

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SlideRider turns your stairs into a slide with the use of a clever foldable mat. Whether you’re a parent trying to entertain your kids on a rainy day, just want a new way to get around your house, or are sprucing up your start-up campus, everyone got their say on this viral project crowd-sourced on Quirky.

While Trisha Cleveland was the inventor of SlideRider, over 4,700 community members helped to determine everything from design, to price, to the name and tagline of the product. If only crowd-sourcing was around back in the day.

7. Razer’s “Razer Edge” Windows 8 Gaming Tablet

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The world’s first crowd-sourced gaming tablet was built with preferences from millions of PC gamers. Through a massive Twitter campaign, everything from end-game chipset, weight, thickness, features, and even the price point of the tablet were determined by the community. As gamers are some of the most demanding users of PC’s, the combined efforts of Razer and the community ended creating perhaps the highest performing tablet out there today.

Innovative control pads with precise analogue joysticks attach to the sides of the tablet. For more traditional gamers looking for a portable experience, a keyboard mouse can be attached. A multi-touch Windows 8 optimized screen and vibration feedback make this device a full fledged gaming PC, a mobile console, and a tablet all in one. Just what gamers wanted!

8. Lockitron

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Everyone’s been there. You have your hands filled with groceries, or work, or whatever, and you have to try and wrangle your keys from your pocket.

You can buy an expensive (and subscription based) security system that opens when your phone’s closed, or you can buy Lockitron, the crowd-sourced device that earned 4,704 pledges worth US$2,278,891 through it’s own boutique crowd-funding platform.

Lockitron comes in stylish colour pairings and latches over the deadlock of your door. Use your phone to lock your door from anywhere in the world.

Share access to your house on other’s smartphones, and use any recent iPhone for key less entry. Lockitron also connects to the internet through Wi-Fi so you can get information on your locks from anywhere with the mobile site. Oh, and did we mention Lockitron’s battery lasts for an entire year?

9. Plug Hub

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Power strip cord management may sound a bit dry, but anything that’s sold 25,000 copies after only a month of development must be something we naturally know we need. For all of those tangled cords under your desk, Plug Hub is an invention made through the Quirky marketplace. Quirky votes on proposed items to create from the community. The main inventor gets the largest chunk of profit, split with all of the community’s other contributors, and the product is sold in Quirky’s store.

Plug Hub’s Quirky page promises to “rid the rat’s nest” under you desk. It’s honestly such a simple and effective solution that little more than a picture is necessary to explain the device. So far, Jared Joyce (the inventor) has earned US$23,404 on the device, and the Quirky community has earned a total US$38,707.

10. Ministry of Supply

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For those who don’t want to decide between no-wrinkle, wicking, ventilated, anti-microbial, or a panoply of other men’s shirt styles, Ministry of Supply has utilized MIT research and materials used by NASA spacesuits to provide new takes on traditional clothes. Phase change materials take in extra heat when you’re overheated and store it (like a battery), slowly releasing the heat when you’re back in an air-conditioned environment. The store’s shirts also wick moisture, are no-wrinkle, provide odour control, and are anti-microbial. High-grade synthetic fabrics make for super clean lines at a down to Earth price.

Ministry of Supply proves that when you engage a community with something they really want, things start to take off fast. Funded on Kickstarter by 2,798 backers, Ministry of Supply supersede their funding goal by 1430% and raised US$429,276.

Check out their pitch here:

Top image: Crowdsourcing. Credit: adesigna/Flickr.

[Source: Business Pundit. Edited. Some links added.]

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