15 10, 2012

MIT Smart Customization Seminar 2012: Session 3: Personalized Cities

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:27+00:00 Oktober 15th, 2012|Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, Personalization|

Seminar-banner-2012-01The new week starts with some news from the planing team of  this year's MIT Smart Customization Seminar. Today it's about a matter relevant for most people reading this blog: The city of the future:

Session 3: December 4th, 2:15pm – 3:30pm
Personalized Cities

In the future, cities will account for nearly 90% of global population growth, 80% of wealth creation, and 60% of total energy consumption.Developing better strategies for the creation of new cities is therefore a global imperative.

Our need to improve our understanding of cities, however, is pressed not only by the social relevance of urban environments, but also by the availability of new strategies for city-scale interventions that are enabled by emerging technologies, taking a holistic approach over all of a city’s functions – water, food, waste, transport, education, energy.

This session will explore new data-driven approaches to urban design and planning with the ultimate goal of a 100x reduction in CO2 emissions, a 10x reduction in traffic congestion, a 5x improvement in livability and a 2x improvement in creativity.

For more up-to-date information and registration please head to http://scg.mit.edu or follow the conference twitter hashtag, #SCG12!

12 10, 2012

MIT Smart Customization Seminar 2012: Session 2: Digital Biology and Personalized Medicine

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:30+00:00 Oktober 12th, 2012|Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, Personalization|

Seminar-banner-2012-01And here is another exclusive insight into the preparations of  this year's MIT Smart Customization Seminar's schedule and speakers! Today we tell a bit about session two:

Session 2: December 4th, 12:00pm – 1:15pm
Digital Biology and Personalized Medicine
Speaker: Ed Boyden
, http://syntheticneurobiology.org/

Personalization and customization have a long-standing tradition in
health care, where treatments and prescriptions have always been tailored to
individual patients’ needs
.

Over the last decade, further personalization
efforts were made by offering customized implants and diagnostics that adapt to
physical features of patients. New technologies will extend this much further
by building on an individual’s genetic predispositions to better predict
treatment outcomes.

In addition, selective control over specific areas of
neural circuits
for the first time enables a thorough analysis of how behavior
patterns and experience come about. On the other hand, from a more practical
perspective, those behavioral patterns and underlying neural circuits can be
readjusted using advanced mental techniques
, ensuring optimum performance in
critical situations
. In this session, we will
explore both new technical developments as well as the surrounding ethical
debate and its implications for technology
.

For more up-to-date information and registration please head to http://scg.mit.edu or follow the conference twitter hashtag, #SCG12!

11 10, 2012

MIT Smart Customization Seminar 2012: Session 1: Responsive Consumption from Personalized Hedonism to Sustainable Choice

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:33+00:00 Oktober 11th, 2012|Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, Personalization|

Seminar-banner-2012-01As promissed we will share more details about this years MIT Smart Customization Seminar's schedule and speakers as they get ironed out. Today we can already give you a brief preview of the very first (non-keynote) session of the day:

Session 1: December 4th, 10:30am – 11:45am
Responsive Consumption from Personalized Hedonism to Sustainable Choice 

In this session we explore how personalization and customization is changing our understanding of consumer choice and behaviors. Consider the example of apparel: Over one-third of the value of textile industries is wasted on traditional mass production processes including warehousing, shipping, and retailing. Mass customization offers potential to not only reduce waste in back-end processes, but also to help consumers make more informed and sustainable decisions. At the same time, real-time data tracking and new devices for self-measuring are becoming the foundation of new business models and retail formats.

For more up-to-date information and registration please head to http://scg.mit.edu or follow the conference twitter hashtag, #SCG12!

20 07, 2012

Featured Research: Open Innovation in the German Automobile Industry

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:55+00:00 Juli 20th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), Featured Research, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies|

Copyright Ili Consulting, www.ili-consulting.de, all rights reserved!German cars are the best in the world. While I can see this statement instantly being challenged by some, the international reputation of and demand for German cars, especially in the high price segment is pretty high.

A brand new study by German innovation expert Ili Consulting shows that the advantages of open innovation have been understood by managers of German car manufacturers and their suppliers.

While companies like BMW, Audi, or Daimler have been forrunners in customer co-creaton via ideation contests, I did not see much OI on the technical level in German Big Auto.

This 2012 edition of the study "Open Innovation in der Automobilindustrie" is the second iteration after a similar survey in 2009. Comparison impressively shows that more and more of the asked managers on the middle, higher and top level follow the trend to get their company's research from a closed to an open one, thereby laying grounds for the harvest of the great innovation potential that the crowd of consumers is.

 

Copyright Ili Consulting, www.ili-consulting.de, all rights reserved!

Comparison chart of manager's answers from the 2009 and 2012 iterations of the study. Clear shift towards open innovation

As has been said by many participating mangers, highly innovative ideas are short in supply. These are, however, one of the most valuable goods a technology company can have, and also the most important advantage Germany has on the international market.

The understanding that the old credo of "we have all the experts we need in house" no longer works in todays fast, interconnected markets and that flexibility and openness for external input, both for criticism and ideas, is crucial to mission success, has finally gotten a solid foothold in headquarters of majors and SMEs alike.

Open innovation is, however, not as easy as putting a website up, asking for ideas. There is much more to it to successfully tap into the wisdom reservoir of the crowd, and without competent guidance by experienced innovation consultants, opening oneself's knowledge stock up to the masses can be a risky venture.

For those of you engaged in businesses where your market share and revenues depend on technological advantage and satisfied customers (not only car-industry specific), the  study may hold some very interesing findings regarding the market, the progress from open to closed innovation, sources of innovation and their rating by practitioners as well as actual obstacles one will face when opening innovation.

The study can be obtained by contacting Ili Consulting directly. For contact information please refer to the contact section of their homepage (while writing about open innovation,, they were not open enough to provide the study as "open access").

12 07, 2012

Market Watch: Idea Contests as a Service: Pitchburner and Skild

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:13+00:00 Juli 12th, 2012|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

Copyright of the respective owners, all rights reserved!Idea Constest are not only recognized by Open Innovation scholars as a great method to benefit from customer experience, they are also a fairly popular tool to foster end- or lead-user integration into the design and development process.

Setting up a successful idea contest, however, requires a lot of dedication, know-how and legwork. This has shown to be a major barrier for many companies who still do not exploit the (full) potential of crowdsourcing and co-creation.

For those ventures who do not want (or can not afford) to hire an open innovation expert of their own, outsourcing to social media specialists can be a viable, yet still not exactly cheap solution. As a result, a number of companies are now starting to offer idea contests as a (web) service. Their concept is that experienced users can create idea contests very easily and at low cost, sometimes even free (a conventional idea contest by a full-service agency costs easily US$50K or more)

An example for this trend are Pitchburner and Skild.

Pitchburner, located in Lincoln, NE, has specialized in supporting online-hosted events, amongst them all kinds of innovation competitions.

Copyright Pitchburner, www.pitchburner.com, all rights reserved!

Submission management interface, click to enlarge!

Pitchburner's platform allows innovation managers (or any staff member) to simply put together a complete idea contest by using a simple interface to define the constest's setup, marketing, participant registration, submissions, judges, idea evaluation and so on. 

Copyright Pitchburner, www.pitchburner.com, all rights reserved!

Comprehensive feature oversight.

Pitchburner offers a free basic version, allowing you do host simple contests as well as two more sophisticated premium and enterprise packages (like multiple rounds, advanced tracking-, messaging- and analytics features, automation of many otherwise tiresome processes and much more).

An interesting part of using a platform like this is the ability to use preexisting template system. Designing a well-looking constes website with all relevant subpages, forms and functionality takes time and requires experienced (hence costly) personel.

Sending emails to all of your participants or judges by the use of the platform's built-in mailing templates is likely faster and less complicated than doing so from your mail client. And if you have ever tried to keep records of an idea contest with 5.000 participants in your standard spreadsheet-software, you probably know how much headache a well-build database can save.

A similar service is offered by SKILD, a new brand by idea contest pioneer idea crossing, one of the most experienced companies in the field in the USA.

SKLID is comparable to pitchburner in many regards, however, they do offer a more complete package of support services. These are not part of the platform, hence not automated, but are "real", traditional coaching and support on tasks like program and marketing strategy, rules development, research, advanced custom design, social media-, technology- and security support, advise on prizes and advances analysis of user/ contest data.

Hence, they do combine the automated contest application with solutions for some of the points I will adress below.

 

Copyright of the original pictures Skild Inc, www.skild.com, all rights reserved!

Skild offers a graphically appealing, easy to use configurator as well. Click to enlarge!

 

My opinion:

  • It is too early to investigate the impact of these offerings on the market for crowdsourcing, and I also personally have not yet tried one of these services for a real project. But the trend is there: Crowdsourcing is getting a broader and broader.
  • The price level of these services is fantastic, and the platform's features include everything one needs for a professional ideation contest.
  • But winning with an idea contest is much more than software:  These platforms do not help you with …
    • asking the right question,
    • formulating the right task.
    • defining the rules of the game and legal terms,
    • getting a feel for the right incentives,
    • reaching a broad and new field of potential participants,
    • (the majority of) community management,
    • not making the beginner's mistakes again,
    • defining a communication strategy for your contest,
    • selecting the winner,
    • programming an interface to existing customer databases or your internal R&D software system,
  • But for experienced users and companies, these services are a great tool. The same may hold true for non-profit or even local organizations, hosting, e.g., an idea contest among their members.  I am curious to see how this field will develop!
10 07, 2012

Conference Report MC2012: The German Mass Customization Community Meeting

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:16+00:00 Juli 10th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MC/OI on the Web, Offline Customization, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Copyright FH Salzburg, http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=fh%20salzburg&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFoQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fh-salzburg.ac.at%2F&ei=EoPxT5vBMqqg4gTRqfncDQ&usg=AFQjCNFVR6AyMuGxHyBpGzKbuuuWdY_6jQ&cad=rja, all rights reserved!Unless you started following my blog just now, there is no way you could potentially have missed the announcements, special editions and features about the MC2012. This year's edition of the largest MC conference in German language, hosted by Dominik Walcher, Paul Blazek and myself, took place on 29th of June.

Despite the early time of day, the air already started to flicker from the upcoming heat of what promissed to be a really nice summer day at the marvellously desgined building of the University of Applied Sciences near edge of the Alp mountains in Salzburg, Austria.

About 150 professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from all parts of the mass customization landscape in the German experienced a tightly packed day dedicated to the opportunities of customer co-design.

Copyright TIM Lehrstuhl, www.tim.rwth-aachen.de, all rights reserved!

Panoramic audience shot. Click to enlarge!

And what a day it was! A buzzing audience followed the presentations of no less than 24 speakers, ranging from young entrepreneurs, telling the tale of their entrance into the MC market, global players and market leaders, giving insight into proven ways and tactics to profit from customer participation, to leading scholars, showing how latest research proves the concept of the integrated customer to be more than a trend.

To not only preach customer integration but actually live up to our words and integrate our conference participants beyond questions and one-on-one networking, we had a special feature in place. Werner Haring, founder and CEO of wallero.us, had contributed to the event's multi media experience by "installing" a social media wall right next to the stage.

Copyright Profilfoto von CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Social Media Wall, Courtesy of wallero.us. Click to enlarge!

This application was a real eye-catcher and various running gags were born during the course of the event – and you still can follow the #MCSalzburg hashtag for a report of the conference.

 The day headed off with the introductory panel. After a hearty welcome by co-host Dominik Walcher, my research group's members Dr. Christoph Ihl and Thorsten Harzer outlined results from our research projects and demonstrated some of the numerical "magic" behind Mass Customization and Open Innovation and how it can be utilized to take the right decisions about mission-critical aspects that many companies do not even realize to be of great importance.

As an example: asked about the ideal number of customization options to offer in your configurator (solution space), would your answer have been: "As many as possible, since more choice equals happier customers!"? If your answer to this is "yes" then our latest resarch findings might offer some ways to improve your customer satisfaction.

Following Dominik Walcher's insight into the development and outcome of the MC500, our great study of the most important MC companies from around the world, I had the chance to present on the importance of customer integration and how companies of all sizes can profit from proper employment of the concept, as well as some new MC trends of the future.

Next on the agenda was the market panel in which Franz Blach (IDEO), Franz Hölzl (Kaindl) and Wolfgang Gruel (Daimler) gave really interesting and well-received insight how Open Innovation, individualization and co-creation have changed the way they are conducting their business and the ways they found to profit from it:

  • An interesting attempt at improvement of working culture were IDEO's working ethics, as Franz Blach outlined them. They are meant to be pretty much contrary to what we are used to in most larger companies these days. Instead of perfectionism and pressure, IDEO deems a culture in which close teamwork, prototypical work (things do not have to be perfect in their first iteration, can evolve and develop), error tolerancy and more fun are the key principles. While there is certainly more to a successful innovation company, this is certainly an approach favorable by many employees.
  • Franz Hölzl demonstrated how Kaindl was able to offer a totally new way to produce wooden flooring, printed with individual patterns and colors, in great looking quality. Because of their production technology and business model, they can deliver a much more customized product at a significantly lower price.
  • Wolfgang Gruel finally brought up the question if/why it is necessary that privately owned cars are often used in a really inefficient way, standing in the driveway most of the time and usually being too large for most of the time they are used. Daimler has been working on models to counter this development by employing car sharing, car pooling and affordable renting models. Nothing revolutionary new, you will say, but this time it is being done large-scale, by an international company, and not your small start-up next door. It will be interesting to observe whether Daimler can actually change something about the status quo or if the highly valued status symbol "car" will remain untouched by the means of sheer efficiency.

 

Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl , collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of our speakers. Click to enlarge!

Next: the social media panel, moderated by Paul Blazek: For all those planning to integrate social media into their PR strategy as well, talks by Martina Partl and Clarissa Streichsbier of cyLEDGE were as insightful as Catharina van Delden's summary of her company innosabi's (unserAller, anybody?) work. Renate Gruber gave the finishing presentation about how her venture CupCakes made its way from a traditional food company onto the MC market:

  • Partl and Streichsbier pointed out that, while social media in regards to mass customization was nothing new anymore, the combination of social media and open innovation are a perfect match. This is certainly true in so far as open innovation per definition relies on participation and hence any media that is suited to increase awareness is potentially supportive for any OI initiative.

    Interestingly they chose Facebook as an example for a customizable information source. The important role of facebook as a customer relationship tool was stressed by all speakers in this panel. Certainly will be interesting to see if/how companies think of now ways to even better employ the platform for their needs. 

During the lunch break, there was time to check the 20+ exhibitors. Some had even set up live demonstrations of their product offers, like Pasterie, supporting us with freshly made pasta or CowCrowd, demoing their lovely wooden pendants, individualized on-location with your own image and/or custom text.

Next: The start-up panel, hosted by MC-blogging colleague Heiko Vogelgesang (egoo.de). Here, Sabine Beck gave an amazing presentation about how her jewlery business Amoonic manages to mix pre-configured and individually customized rings and more in a great portfolio that every manager dreams about: produced entirely on demand, without any significant need for storage space or the risk of wasting materials.

Interestingly, their configurator is not even visible if you enter their website. At first (and actually second) glance you will not notice anything hinting at the possibility to customize a ring. The configuration options do become visible, however, once you have decided upon one of the preconfigured designs. These can then be individualized using a wide variety of options. Possible combinations of gold, silver and gems of all kinds range from 150 to 2.5 million Euro. Certainly something in this for everybody.

However, from my own testing I found it hard to even find out that you can individualize the rings. You have to actually select one before a respective button appears and that could be a serious usability drawback in my opinion as many potential customers might not even recognize the potential of the store. It does, however, explain why about 40% of their sales are actually preconfigured, non-customized rings. Anyways though, with the average customer leaving between 400-500 Euro in their shop, the concept will certainly be profitable – especially since there are very low fix costs.

Next up was Stickvogel, a promissing start-up which specialized in embroiding and etching all kinds of motives into all kinds of goods. Lately they teamed up with major retailer Butlers, offering custom stitching to customers in Butlers' shops. This B2B customization service concept will certainly be exciting to follow over the (hopefully) next years.

Closing presentation of this panel was helt by Carina Schichl and Tanja Sieder, representing their business for unique custom travel guides, Nectar&Pulse, based on insider tips by what they call "soulmates" rather than generalized all-round information. Locals give their best tips for tourists which are then, upon checking, transformed into nicely layouted guides. While this is certainly an interesting idea per se, the issue I see with it is that the product might not be easy to market. As Schichl and Sieder pointed out, their target group originally were younger people. Instead, most of their customers are 30+. While their choice of age clustering is certainly debatable (and lead to one of the mentioned running gags of this conference), this raises the question: do they actually have the right product for the right market? If their average customer's age is above what they expected, they would likely be well advised to adapt to a different kind of information and layout which fits the needs of this target group better.

Next up was the retail panel. Moderator Jochen Krisch (excitingcommerce) did an outstanding job leading through an exciting lineup of big names: Former Bundesliga-athlete Sven Renz showed how his product line of completely customized ski/sports shoes has blessed his company with a yearly growth of 20-50%. However, I expect there to be an even larger potential in this market, seeing how ErtlRenz still "only" sold 2400 pairs of shoe at their peak last year.

Original images copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, collage copyright TIM Group, all rights reserved!

Some captures of the exhibition. Click to enlarge!

Claudia Kieserling, winner of this year's much-noticed Million-Dollar-Challenge by Zazzle, gave a short overview of individual shoe manufacturer selve, showing off some of the models availible to women around the world and giving some interesting insight upon questions from the audience. She especially stressed the importance of the customer's shopping experience, which should be more than just pushing a button and receiving a cardboard box.

A great final presenation in this block came from Max Kickinger. His soundbranding company is known for its work with some major companies like Porsche, Swarovski and many more. Commenting on a truly excellent video he explained how companies use clever sound branding to gain the consumers attention – often without him realizing to be guided towards the "right" shelve – and the checkout counter!

Following another networking break, the final panel of the day: The configurator panel, presented and moderated by Alexander Felfering of Graz University, had the technical side of customer integration covered.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

Coffee-Break is over, back to the conference room, Alp-Style!

Andreas Falkner (SIEMENS) spoke about the challenges of complex product configuration, especially where multiple dependencies between customizable factors are to be respected (a good example why companies should reffer to an expert instead of just trying to headjump into the MC market).

Marc Herling of Lumo Graphics demonstrated how the use of 3D-configurators can be a blessing for the consumer who can imagine the to-buy product way better than it would be the case with just some images. With more advanced configurators, he says, the concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) will more and more be replaced by YGWYW – You

[actually] Get What You Want.

On the other hand, developing a really well working, appealing 3D-configurator takes a lot more than the amount of work it costs to "just" shoot said product images. Hence, as with so many cases of exploiting new technological opportunities, its a balancing act and might often not be profitable for small companies.

HYVE's Volker Bilgram was up next. In his "Toolkits for Gamification" speech he explained how and why the aspect of playing – adding features that make the process of configuring/buying a product more fun than just an annoying act of shopping – can contribute to a retailer's sales figures. Again: If done correctly!

To complete this panel, Klaus Pilsl of IndiValue spoke about web based configurators and their part in the customer's shopping experience. His company is about to launch a major new "configurator as a (web) service" — something that has been tried for many years, but now finally may become true.

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!My personal conclusions of this year's MC2012:

 (1) MC has great potential to significantly improve a company's sales figures and customer brand loyalty. However, to make it work successfully, more is needed than just to put up a fancy-looking configurator and then wait for clients.

Especially the dialog with the (potential) client is and will be even more important in the future, as more and more companies employ easily accessable social platforms like Facebook to communicate with their crowd. And a lot of both promissing start-ups and established companies could profit immensely from experienced coaching since, as Christoph Ihl had pointed out at the very beginning, even the right choice of customization options (not to be confused with as many options as possible!) can make or break your MC business. 

(2) Mass Customization needs to be less outcome-driven and to be looked upon from a higher, more meta-perspective to develop it further. I believe we know a lot about nice and perhaps even profitable BtoC consumer products. But what about MC services that tackle some of our true global challenges?

(3) Finally, the German MC community really is a nice crowd of great individuals, very eager to collaborate, to share ideas and experiences, and to network!

Looking back on a fantastic conference I truly want to thank everybody who made this possible, may it be as a speaker or a guest, an exhibitor or supportive staff member. Special thanks do go to my dear co-hosts Paul Blazek and of course Dominik Walcher, who did an outstanding job organizing this large event with his team at Salzburg University!

Copyright CoworkingSalzburg Romy Sigl, all rights reserved!

(Most of) our speakers! Click to enlarge!

28 06, 2012

MC2012: These Companies Will Participate at the German MC Community Meeting Today

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:34+00:00 Juni 28th, 2012|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, Personalization|

Mc2012banner2Today's expert workshop marks the beginning of the MC2012, largest OI and MC conference in German language. If you have been following my tweets and posts over the past weeks you can tell that we are all really excited about this event, and from the registrations we can tell that we are by far not the only ones. 

This year we will be more than glad to welcome MC/ OI enthusiasts from the most different of branches, all coming together in Salzburg to speak, listen, discuss, learn, teach and network. Amongst our guests this year will be the following companies and institutions (alphabetical order):

  • a misura GmbH
  • Agentur Christoffer
  • Algo Gmbh
  • Amoonic
  • Bayer AG
  • BCCS
  • Beiersdorf AG
  • Berger Feinste Confiserie
  • BioArt AG
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • CAYS
  • CEWE COLOR
  • Coworking Salzburg
  • CupCakes Wien
  • Customate / Carglam
  • cyLEDGE
  • Daimler AG
  • DEO
  • Drei Gürteltiere
  • egoo
  • ErtlRenz
  • excitingcommerce
  • Fachhochschule Köln
  • FH Salzburg
  • Fish IT
  • Gabriele BCCS
  • Gerd Wiberg
  • Heinemann Retail
  • HHL Leipzig
  • HYVE
  • IDEO
  • IHK SBH
  • ikarusbison
  • IndiValue
  • innosabi GmbH
  • ITG
  • KAAN Veranstaltungen
  • Kaindl Flooring
  • KHK GmbH
  • Kickinger Soundbranding
  • KISKA
  • KTM
  • Lingerie Couturier
  • Lumo Graphics
  • Mars GmbH
  • Meiberger Holzbau
  • Mozart Distillerie
  • mysaftbar
  • Nectar & Pulse
  • New Media Marketing
  • Open Experience GmbH
  • P-Hold GmbH
  • PersonalNOVEL
  • phenomene GmbH & Co. KG
  • Pixelution
  • Privatbrauerei Trumer
  • proHolz Salzburg
  • RealNetworks GmbH
  • Reiser + Partner Beratung
  • RHIEM Services
  • RWTH Aachen
  • Salzburg Research
  • SBS Software GmbH
  • Schlosserei Meissl
  • Selve – Shoe Individualizer
  • Seminar Shop
  • senova
  • Shirtinator AG
  • SIEMENS
  • Stickvogel
  • The Grip
  • Therme Erding Familienbad
  • TU Dresden
  • TU Graz
  • Universität für Bodenkultur / Wien
  • W&H Dentalwerk
  • WIBERG GmbH
  • Wunschfutter GmbH

We are looking forward to a really great conference with all of you who will be there. And those who can not attend this time, worry not: I will give an overview over the MC2012 here within the next days. 

26 06, 2012

Featured Research: Collaborating with Customer Communities: Lessons from the Lego Group

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:43+00:00 Juni 26th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies|

Our series on featured research articles continues. Today I want to recommend a paper by fellow researchers Yun Mi Antorini (Aarhus University) and Albert M. Muñiz, Jr. (DePaul University, Chicago) as well as Tormod Askildsen (LEGO Group). They tell the story of how LEGO learned to use sophisticated crowd interaction for mutual benefit and explain some core rules of co-creation.

MIT sloan review coverCollaborating With Customer Communities: Lessons From the LEGO Group

By: Yun Mi Antorini, Albert M. Muñiz, Jr.and Tormod Askildsen

Availible at: MIT Sloan Review

 

Lego users have a long tradition of innovation and sharing their innovations with one another — activities that the Internet has made much easier.Long before evreyone was talking about co-creation and user  communities, LEGO fans had "Lugnet", a universe of niche communities of people sharing their creations in LEGO.

As Lego managers became more aware of innovations by the company’s adult fans, the managers realized that at least some of the adult fans’ ideas would be interesting to the company’s core target market of children.

Historically, Lego was an extremely private company that tightly controlled its products and intellectual property. The company’s public position was “We don’t accept unsolicited ideas.”

However, things began to change in the late 1990s following the introduction of a new line of kits called Lego Mindstorms, which contained software and hardware to create small customizable and programmable robots. Sophisticated users found ways to hack into the code and adapt the new products; they talked about their innovations on independent websites.

This presented Lego management with a choice: either pursue legal action against the hackers or invite users to collaborate on new products and applications. The company concluded that litigation would be difficult and costly — and also that there could be significant advantages to collaborating with users.

Through trial and error, Lego has developed a solid understanding of what it takes to build and maintain profitable and mutually beneficial collaborations with users.

In their paper, Antorini, Muniz and Askildsen examine the emergence of Lego’s user communities, how management’s involvement with user groups has evolved and the five core principles that Lego has formulated for successful interaction with its user groups:

  • To be clear abour rules and expectations
  • To ensure a win-win
  • To recognize that outsiders are not insiders
  • Not to expect one size to fit all (different approaches/ platforms might be needed for different audiences) and
  • To be as open as possible

Read the full article at MIT Sloan Management Review!

25 06, 2012

MC2012: Connect on Facebook, Follow on Twitter!

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:46+00:00 Juni 25th, 2012|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Deutsch (in German), Events, Open/User Innovation, Personalization|

MC2012_banner_700

Three day left and counting: June 28th our major event of this month, the MC2012, largest conference on Mass Customization and Open Innovation in German language, will head off with the  – already sold out – business workshop. There are still tickets left for the conference/ exhibition on friday, though! So if you are going to be in (or near) Austria on the 29th of this month, get your reservation here and meet us in Salzburg!

We would also be glad to exchange with you on all topics MC and OI via the official conference Facebook page!

And even if you can not come visit us in person you can still stay in the loop by following @MCSalzburg, the offical conference Twitter account.

Looking forward to see you on the MC2012!

18 06, 2012

MC2012 Exhibitor Preview: Hyve: Consumer Integration For Maximum Creative Power

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:59+00:00 Juni 18th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), Events, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

MC 2012 banner compactHere another preview of our exhibitors at this year's edition of the MC2012, the upcoming German language conference on mass customization and co-creation.

Since the conference will be entirely in German language, so will be this post.

 

Hyve: Ideen finden, formulieren, verdichten, verwerten

Neben der eigentlichen Konferenz und dem Expertenworkshop bietet die MC-Conference Unternehmen die Möglichkeit, ihre innovativen Konzepte einer breiten Fachöffentlichkeit zu präsentieren. In den Räumlichkeiten der FH Salzburg stehen dafür großzügige Räumlichkeiten zur Verfügung, in denen wir auch in diesem Jahr wieder eine Reihe interessanter Aussteller begrüßen dürfen.

Besonders freuen wir uns über den Besuch der Münchener Innovationsagentur HYVE, die die Konferenz neben einem Vortrag zum Thema "Toolkits with Gamification" auch um eine eigene Ausstellung zu Kundeninteraktionssystemen bereichern wird.

HYVE unterstützt seit nunmehr 12 Jahren Unternehmen unterschiedlichster Branchen dabei, neue Lösungsansätze und Innovationsideen zu finden, in Worten greifbar zu machen, weiterzuentwickeln und in reale Produkte zu verwandeln.

Dabei ist der Name Programm: Hyve bedeutet Bienenstock und kaum ein Wort charakterisiert die größte Ideenbörse der Welt treffender als dieses. Das Internet vernetzt nicht nur Computer, es verbindet Menschen. Menschen mit Träumen, Wissen und konkreten Ideen zu allen nur erdenklichen Lebens- und damit Geschäftsfeldern. Die Chancen stehen also gut, dass die Lösung vieler Probleme, die Ihrem Team gerade Kopfzerbrechen bereiten, irgendwo im Netz bereits existiert – und sei es nur als Expertenwissen, das lediglich mit Ihrer Herausforderung in Verbindung gebracht werden müsste.

Die Größe und Komplexität des Internets erschwert aber leider auch die Kontaktaufnahme mit denjenigen Nutzern, die das benötigte Wissen oder innovative Ideen zum eigenen Produkt beitragen könnten.

HYVE bietet als Mittler zwischen den Bedarfen der Industrie und Wirtschaft sowie der Kreativ- und Wissensbasis der Internet-Community Lösungen, um die Intelligenz (und Emotion) des "Bienenstocks" zu filtern, zu verdichten und zu einer Problemlösung zu formen. Dabei stellt das Unternehmen alle notwendigen Dienstleistungen zur Lösungsfindung  bereit: von der klassischen Marktforschung über Ideenwettbewerbe und -Management, Lead User Ansätze, die Arbeit mit Communities, spezialisierte IT-Konzepte bis zum Industrial Design.

Nach einer Vielzahl erfolgreicher Projekte für und mit internationalen Partnern aller Branchen verfügt HYVE über einen enormen Erfahrungsschatz und umfassende Kenntnis der besten Methoden zur Unterstützung des Innovationsmanagements. Unternehmen, die für aktuelle oder zukünftige Projekte auf wirklich kompetente Unterstützung zurückgreifen wollen, finden in HYVE einen hervorragenden Ansprechpartner.

Community_researchRinge

HYVE und viele weitere spannende Aussteller präsentieren sich auf der MC2012. Mehr zu Ausstellung, Workshop und Konferenz auf der offiziellen Konferenzwebsite.

15 06, 2012

MC2012 Exhibitor Preview: UnserAller: Taking Care of Your Crowdsourcing Endeavors

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:11+00:00 Juni 15th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), Events, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation|

MC 2012 banner compactDid you already book your ticket for this year's edition of the MC2012, the upcoming German language conference on mass customization and co-creation? I am looking forward to meeting you again (or for the first time, respectively).  To help you pass the time until the conference heads off on June 28th, here is another little preview on one of our exhibitors.

Since the conference will be entirely in German language, so will be this post.

 

UnserAller: Crowdsourcing für alle

Neben der eigentlichen Konferenz und dem Expertenworkshop bietet die MC-Conference Unternehmen die Möglichkeit, ihre innovativen Konzepte einer breiten Fachöffentlichkeit zu präsentieren. In den Räumlichkeiten der FH Salzburg stehen dafür großzügige Räumlichkeiten zur Verfügung, in denen wir auch in diesem Jahr wieder eine Reihe interessanter Aussteller begrüßen dürfen.

Unseraller_logo_colorFür alle, die zur Unterstützung ihrer Innovationsarbeit auf Co-Creation, also die Integration potenzieller Kunden und anderer Interessierter in die eigene Entwicklungstätigkeit setzen, haben wir in diesem Jahr einen ganz besonders interessanten Tipp: die Crowdsourcing-Experten von UnserAller. 

Dass Crowdsourcing ein enormes Potenzial hat, nicht nur neue Käufer auf die eigenen Produkte aufmerksam zu machen, sondern auch die richtigen Produkte richtig - also Zielgruppenkonform – zu entwickeln, ist mittlerweile kein Geheimnis mehr. Weltmarktführer der verschiedensten Branchen haben die Chancen erkannt und betreiben teils enormen Aufwand um diejenigen in die Produktentwicklung einzubinden, die ihre Wünsche letztlich besser kennen als jeder Marktforscher: die Kunden selbst. 

Aber auch mit kleinem Budget lassen sich durch Crowdsourcing messbare, die Erwartungen oft um ein Vielfaches übertreffende Ergebnisse erzielen. Vorausgesetzt, man weiß, wie es richtig geht. 

Ein Kernaspekt beim Einstieg in die Welt des Crowdsourcing ist die Etablierung eines geeigneten Kommunikationskanals zur "Crowd". Diesen zu konzipieren, softwareseitig zu entwickeln und zu betreuen erfordert Expertenwissen, Erfahrung und Ressourcen und ist eine der größten Hürden die es auf dem Weg zu offener Innovation zu überwinden gilt. 

Copyright Innosabi GmbH, www.innosabi.de, all rights reserved!

Click to enlarge!

Für alle, die nicht über eine eigene Marketingabteilung mit entsprechenden Fachkenntnissen verfügen, bietet die Münchener Agentur Innosabi eine spezielle Plattform, die mit einem Rundum-Sorglos-Paket die realisierung individueller Crowdsourcing-Projekte unterstützt: UnserAller.de

Unternehmen jeder Größe können nach Buchung eines auf ihre individuellen Anforderungen passenden Paketes konkrete Produkte zur Diskussion stellen oder Vorgaben machen, nach denen die Community (mit ca. 15.000 Mitgliedern eine der Großen in Deutschland) Vorschläge und Wünsche zu Neuentwicklungen äußern kann.

Die technische Umsetzung ist dabei angenehm einfach und übersichtlich gestaltet. Je nach gewähltem Leistungsumfang kann sie in die eigene Website, Facebook-Präsenz oder die UnserAller-Community eingebunden werden, können Marketingmaterialien bestellt oder eine besonders prominente Projektpräsentation ausgewählt werden.

Produkte, die in Zusammenarbeit mit der UnserAller-Community entwickelt wurden, können auf Wunsch im eigenen Onlineshop zum Kauf angeboten werden. Darüber hinaus bietet Innosabi auch eine individuelle Projektberatung, ein Angebot, von dem besonders solche Unternehmen profitieren können, die Crowdsourcing bisher noch nicht (intensiv) genutzt haben.

Copyright Innosabi GmbH, www.innosabi.de, all rights reserved!

Click to enlarge!

Für die (Käufer)Community bieten sich ebenfalls interessante Anreize zur Mitarbeit: konstruktive Beiträge, Verbesserungs- und Produktvorschläge werden über ein Punktesystem honoriert, Punkte lassen sich beispielsweise beim Einkauf im UnserAller-Shop in Rabatte umsetzen. 

Ein interessanter Ansatz ist auch das Vorschlagsportal, über das jeder Interessierte neue spannende Projekte vorschlagen kann. Wer sich also immer schon gwundert hat, wieso es ein bestimmtes Produkt noch nicht gibt, kann hier zum Erfinder werden.  

 Innosabi informiert auf dem eigenen und dem UnserAller-Blog regelmäßig über neue Projete und interessante Trends aus der Welt der Co-Creation. Mehr Informationen über die UnserAller-Plattform finden sich auch auf in der FAQ-Sektion der Projektwebsite.

Innosabi, die Köpfe hinter UnserAller, und viele weitere spannende Aussteller präsentieren sich auf der MC2012. Mehr zu Ausstellung, Workshop und Konferenz auf der offiziellen Konferenzwebsite.

30 05, 2012

Conference Review: European Open Innovation Summit in Brussels, May 2012

By | 2018-06-14T06:56:32+00:00 Mai 30th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Events, Open/User Innovation, Personalization|

Courtesy World Research Group, www.worldrg.com, all rights reserved. I spoke about our "market for open innovation" study at the European Open Innovation Summit in Brussels last week.This was a new conference for me, but it was a good platform for exchange and discussion, and many of the usual suspects from the field were there.

Here are a few observations from the presentations at this event I liked most.

 

PSION: Open Source Mobility

 

Courtesy of Psion, www.psion.com, all rights reserved.Presentation helt by Todd Boone, Dirctor, Open Innovation. PSION
 is a Toronto based company producing special-purpose handheld computers (inventory taking, logistics, etc.). After feeling stronger and stronger competition, they changed their business model from an internal closed R&D process to a modular open innovation approach.

And they are utilizing a toolkit for user innovation as their open innovation tool. Indeed, PSION is one of the very few companies that really out this method of OI into practice.

The present toolkit allows anyone to build new hardware products by combining pre-existing modules into new application. Anyone in the community can get the CAD files of all products and components. It also allows external people to integrate PSION's hardware components with external components.

The outcome for PSIONAllowing to create new business opportunities very flexibly, especially in fields where the company had no previous experience. Take the medical device industry. Here, their open plattform allowed a fast cooperation with medical company that brought industry knowledge and customer needs, and could use the toolkit to easily develop a new device which now is co-marketed. Psion alone never could have entered this market easily.

Outcomes:

  • Get new markets and new revenue models
  • Create new products with higher margins, as these are out of the established competition
  • Get differentiated, distributed products with faster time to market

Challenges:

  • Convince all employees that open is not evil
  • Get board to accept that they do not know where all target markets are; and what these markets want (tough insight to get for board / Psion's stratgey people),
  • Competing philosphies: "We want to be innovative" (but in a domain we know) is offset by "We've never done that before …" (we don't know how to handle it).
  • Opening the business culture: Establish open attitude to listen and respond

 

LEGO: Making Open Innovation a Strategy at Lego

 

Courtesy of LEGO, www.lego.com, all rights reserved.Presentation helt by Erik Hansen, Senior Director, Technology Innovation. LEGO since long is known as one of the companies that really take user innovation and lead user ideas seriously. With their new OI initiative, they want to expand this perspective from user innovation to technical and process innovation, too.

4 Value pools shall be tapped into by formal OI initiative

  • Internal talent
  • Entrepreneurs (lead users)
  • Kids and AFoLs (creative customers)
  • Companies and other profess. institutions (beyond a few established partnerships like with MII Media Lab)

4 pilot products

  • Technical OI in the production area -> can we solve "unsolvable" problems in our manufactuing process by extenral input? (e.g. electricity, statische AUFLADUNG)
  • improving the core LEGO experience through crowdsourcing (= building box set for the first time and then deconstructing it and building something again -> can we here create service innovation by crowdsourcing?
  • A HR platform for internal OI
  • Open Innovation platform (i.e. a Lego Factory 2.0 ?? -> build an established dialogue for customers to share their ideas and experiences)

 

NOKIA: Idea Crowdsourcing

 

Courtesy of Nokia, www.nokia.com, all rights reserved. Presentation helt by Pia Erkinheimo, Head of Crowdsourcing,.NOKIA's ideaproject.com, an online idea contest originating from this hypethesis: Who provides more value? A bored professional or an enthusiastic amateur?

Structured around different contest, e.g. ideas for a mobile micro-task platform, which git 900+ ideas.

In total Nokia got:

  • 11,000 ideas
  • 20,000 community members
  • 21,000 "likings" of the community members
  • 1,660,000 page visits of 10-60 min. per single visit

 

Under Armour: Being Open as Part of the Business Model: Trust for Open Innovation

 

Courtesy of Under Armour, www.underarmour.com, all rights reserved.Presentation helt by Jason Berns , Director of Innovation. Under Armour gave a very good presentation on the need of the US sports brand to build trust and be a good partner in open innovation. Jason shared great insight how the spirit of "sportsmenship" at UA is driving their open inovation initiative with smaller companies and individuals.

While it was inisghtful for me at this conference that managers in OI today are not (just) talking any longer about the "why" and "how" of open innovation, but much more about open innovation readiness, internal structurs, policies, capabilities etc., it was Jason's presentation that really reminded us the in the end the core success factor of OI will be to create a win-win partnership.

19 05, 2012

Winners Announced: Idea Bird Contest by Deutsche Telekom came to a Conclusion

By | 2018-06-14T06:57:05+00:00 Mai 19th, 2012|Co-creation, Contests, Crowdsourcing, Open/User Innovation|

Some weeks ago I posted about Ideabird, q large scale ideation contest on M2M-Communication hosted by Deutsche Telekom, Deloitte, Hyve and RWTH Aachen. Last Friday, the jury decided on the winning ideas. 

Banner_shortAs you may remember, the contest's intend was to to create awareness for the positive effects that M2M applications can have for life, work and society and to stimulate innovation across industries. By gathering opinions and ideas from a broad base of creative participants and challenging them with a scientific point of view, future fields of research within this area were to be identified.

Participation was far beyond any prediction with several Partnershundreds of submissions being sent in, despite the rather specific topic of this contest. Another great example that idea contests can reach and activate a really large audience, even if the questions asked would at first glance indicate a rather closed (small) community of experts.

Picking the very best out of the large number of really innovative, sometimes easy-yet-brilliant ideas was really no simple task. After long and intense consideration, confering and discussion we finally decided to award the three first prices (third was a split, just could not decide…) to the following ideas which we deem really really interesting:

1st Price ($5000)

Emergency triangle

1The Submission: The idea is to incorporate an chip in the emergency tringles, alerting other drivers to the dangers they will encounter on the road.
How it works?

When the car has a breakdown or accident on the road is required to signal the Occurrence to other drivers. When mounting the triangle on the road, he activates a chip that transmits a warning signal by GSM to your Gps device on car or other alert system. The signal has a radius of 1 km, to not create confusion to drivers. Simple to apply, low cost and very useful for ensuring security in regional roads with low visibility.

Jury Statement: "The Emergency Triangle convinced us because it is a unique and innovative idea with the goal of increasing safety on the streets. It's a typical product, which everybody knows, and at the same time the idea offers a new and very concrete benefit that only becomes possible through M2M. Therefore it fits perfectly to the contest. The potential for such a solution is also huge – it may be placed in cars by manufacturers or offered as a valuable present for clients."

2nd Price ($3000)

M2M Remote Parking Disc

2The Submission: In many countries parking discs are a common way to for authorities to see how long a car parks on a short term parking spaces. For example in germany there are parking lots where you are only allowed to stay for 90min.
Everybody has made this experience: One coffee too much in Saturdays shopping fever, overslept maximum parking time, got a ticket.

The idea is a parking disc which is controlled by a mobile phone or smartphone. When parking you send a sms or datapush by your smartphone to set the time – for example: 90min – the parking disc sets the wheel on the right time. After 85min the parking disc sends a SMS with a warning, so you have enough time to get back to the car, without getting a ticket.

Extra function: When the parking-disc is in "parking-mode" but suddenly moves (changes GPS coordinates) you get a warning, that your car might have been stolen. So actually the parking disc is also a alarm system for your car.

Jury Statement: "The Remote Parking Disk is the most innovative gimmick we have seen in the contest. It provides great help in our everyday life, fits perfectly to the contest and inspires many other applications. "

3rd Price (Split decision, $1000 each)

#1: Pizzatracker – where is my pizza?

3The Submission: What a nice benefit: You know exactly when your ordered pizza will arrive!!!

Often the pizza supplier says: "….in approximately 30 minutes you will get your pizza". This could be 20, 25, 30 or e.g. 40 minutes. Nobody knwos it exactly, the answer knows only the wind.

With a tracking-code, which is given during the order-call, the customer gets a self-service possibility to trace the delivery and knows exactly when it will arrives. A delivery tracker would be a new service for the customer and therefore a unique feature compared to other delivery services: The communication in advertising!

Advantages:
– use the delivery time very effective for other doings – you are flexible
– you will get nervous until reach the 30-minutes-border: now you are safe, that the pizza service haven`t forgot the order
– the acitvation on suppliers website will increase
– process costs will decrease
– new and innovative communcation opoortunities

Jury Statement: "The Pizza Tracker addresses an interesting business by providing an innovative M2M-based solution to industrialized delivery services. It may fascinate customers of these services who probably like using online tools, and could boost service quality to a new level. It also provides great benefits to the service provider as an excellent tool for differentiation. "

#2: Modern Hide & Seek

4The Submission: The idea is to modernize tradition game of Hide & Seek and bring kids back to playgrounds. We are all witnesses of today's kids behavior of mostly playing games in front of computer monitors and spending most of their time in front of it. This idea aims to change such unhealthy behavior by upgrading the game of Hide & Seek to 21st century standards.

Product would consists of bracelet/receiver with display.
Bracelet would have two basic functions:
– send location signal;
– receive location signal;
Traditional game of Hide & Seek is mostly static, but with idea of bracelet locator it could become more intense.
Hiding players would be allowed to move around predetermined territory making game more interesting.
Bracelets would also have delay setting so if you want to make the game a little bit harder, you would just set higher value for delay signal (15 seconds for example).

Additionally parents could download dedicated app to their smart phones and watch location of their children at any time.

Jury Statement: "With the help of M2M, Modern Hide & Seek brings one of the most popular children's games into the age of geocaching. It thereby allows bunch of new rules – really the next generation of Hide & Seek. "

These and more submissions as well as the lively community interaction can also be seen on the official contest website.

Congratulations to all winners! Even if your idea did not make it to the top three (four…), thank you very much for your participation! As said, picking the winners was an extremely tough, close decision and I really look forward to your ideas in one of the upcoming idea contests (that I will keep you up to date on in this blog)!

14 05, 2012

Open Service Innovation: BOSCH Launches OI Community Dedicated to Auto Mechanic Services

By | 2018-06-14T06:57:11+00:00 Mai 14th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Crowdsourcing, MC/OI on the Web, Open/User Innovation, Service Customization|

Photo courtesy of Bosch, all rights reservedBosch, one of the world's leading suppliers for (professional and personal) electronics and tools, has taken another interesting step in opening their innovation process

Bosch is not a new player in this field, already providing a general idea plattform where you can both submit solutions to specific problems and get the chance to send in and present your very own revolutionary idea for the next big product (enhancement). 

Now Bosch has taken things one step further. Seeing how automotive componentes and electronics are a major branch of their business they decided to go where problem-knowledge and improvement-ideas are most likely to be found: with the professional employer of Bosch's tool, the mechanic. 

In light of this realization, Bosch has recently launched the Bosch Open Innovation Plattform, specifically dedicated to professional garages and their employees. 

The concept of this community (which is so far in German language only) is twofold: The core-piece is a forum where professionals can discuss problems they may encounter during their work with Bosch's tools as well as exchange tips and tricks with colleagues from all over the nation (and the world, provided they understand German). Dedicated Bosch staff is also present on these forums so a direct interaction with company representatives is possible.

Next to this the plattform features an "Idea" section in which users (upon free registration) can submit their ideas about product enhancements and new solutions that they deem helpful/ necessary to better employ the company's products in "real life". Browsing through already submitted ideas is possible without registration. And of course you can submit ideas on how to improve the plattform itself (there even is an own section for this topic). 

A complementary "News" section is used by the company to transmit additional information deemed valuable for their target group. 

So far Bosch's concept seems to be rather successful with 400+ registered users and already 72 submitted ideas as of today, ranging from improved knowledge databases to concrete improvements of software provided by Bosch. It will be very interesting to observe where this communty of experts will go and which concrete outcomes it will produce. In any case a very good example of open innovation employment beyond "just" putting another idea website out there and wait. 

10 05, 2012

Participate at Idea Contest: Brining the Walking Frame (Rollator) into the Future

By | 2018-06-14T06:57:20+00:00 Mai 10th, 2012|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Design, Deutsch (in German), Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers|

Our German readers can find a German version of this post here.

Stilsicher_logoMobility is one of the key requirements for maintaining an independent lifestyle up until a high age. Today, most seniors are able to depend on themselves – as more than 90% of all 65-years olds live under their own roof in good health.

But what happens, when leaving home, to go shopping or to meet with friends, is getting increasingly difficult with a higher age? What if somebody’s mobility declines, even though he or she does not depend on help permanently?

A small daily help in such situations can be a walking frame. In Germany, there are almost two million walking frames in use, with a yearly selling rate of another 500.000 pieces.

Unfortunately, not all of these are as fancy and safe as one would wish. Furthermore, the German consumer protection agency Stiftung Warentest found insufficiencies regarding stability and safety of walking frames tested last year.

But what could the superstar of walking frames look like? It has to be handy and safe, yet Stilsicher_teaser also has to incorporate personal desires concerning the design and accessories to overcome it's still somewhat dusty image.

To find answers to these questions, German League of Seniors, in cooperation with partners from both the business and academic world and sponsored by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has initiated a large-scale idea contest to improve the famous walking aid. 

In the context of the idea contest “Stil:sicher unterwegs, everybody is asked to give their input on how to improve the walking frame.

If you want to be on the team for developing completely new and innovative solutions for the walking frame of the future, here is your chance! May it be a GPS-assisted emergency notification system, an attached reading aid or a built-in minicomputer that helps to identify (individually) tolerable food: the only limit is your imagination. 

On the project homepage you can find more detailed information on the contest and the process of turning in your own ideas. Submissions are open until June 15th, 2012. You can also view and comment on already submitted ideas. Afterwards, a panel of experts will decide on the winning ideas which will be presented to interested companies and institutions and hopefully make it into future products. 

So, what is your idea (incremental or wild) to bring the walker /rollator into the future? Submit it here!

PS: The modern walker, the Rollator, of course itself is a lead user innovation, invented by the Swede Aina Wifalk in 1978, herself a polio sufferer.