Sparks For Creativity

A Universe Of Possibilitiesidea

I am so frustrated when I hear people describe themselves as not creative. If you consider it, each sentence we utter is a creative act. In fact, every problem, every product and every moment in our lives is an opportunity for creativity.

I just picked up a book from Tina Seelig, InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, and she said something that really resonated with me: "Creativity is an endless resource, and we can tap into it at any time."

Innovation Enginemodel

Seelig offers a new creativity model, that she calls the "Innovation Engine," to explain how ingenuity is generated and fostered. Chapter-by-chapter she explains specific tools, techniques and conditions that together enhance creativity in individuals, teams and organizations.

Her approach to unlocking creativity is a holistic one. Her model has six parts – three that come from inside of you (knowledge, imagination and attitude) and three that are generated by the environment in which you live (culture, resources and habitat).

"These are not isolated factors. You have to look at them in concert," Seelig said.

Knowledge, imagination and attitude overlap and are internal because they reside in the mind. Knowledge is the toolbox for your imagination; your imagination is the catalyst for the transformation of your knowledge into new ideas; and your attitude provides you with the drive needed to push through difficult problems.

On the other side, culture, habitat, and resources are of the outside world. Culture, habitat, and resources influence the process by which imagination catalyzes the transformation of knowledge into ideas. Thus the individual and the environment are interdependent in interesting and non-obvious ways and essential for creative problem solving. 

Inventive Solutions

Seelig said both imagination and innovation can be fostered in a few simple ways.

Look at things from a new perspective. According to Seelig, we often allow our imagination to dwindle as we age. One of the way we do that, is by asking ourself constraining questions such as: 5 +5 = ?

“There is only one right answer. Really creative people don’t look at the world like this. They look at problems through different lenses and they reframe the problem,” said Seelig. Instead, creative people ask questions like this:  ? + ? = 10

Reframing the question this way, opens up the parameters and allows for an infinite number of inventive answers. 

Rethinking of failure as research. Even under pressure, you must not be afraid of failure, said Seelig. You can always gain knowledge from unexpected results. This way you won't won't fear being innovative, just in case things don't come out the way they are expected to. 

"We all have creativity within us," Seelig argues, "and there are endless opportunities to use it."

 Watch this TedX talk by Tina Seelig on unlocking creativity. Seelig will take you through her innovation model and the various components needed for creativity.tina

Fresh New Launches

The consumer arena has never been more fixated on the ‘new’. 

There's a profound shift in power taking place in the business arena. With a whole new breed of exceptional new brands living by the rules of Business 3.0, consumers are now attracted to unproven and unknown brands the way they were attracted to established brands in the past. In fact, 'established' is now often just another word for tired if not tainted. The future belongs to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS. A trend coined by

Upstarts are making waves: Newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive; consumers are rushing to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS and are now lavishing love, attention and trust on brands without heritage and history.brands

With the democratization and globalization of innovation (not to mention the celebration of entrepreneurship), brands and individuals from all over the world, are now working around the clock to dream up and launch endless new products and services, that are truly better and more exciting than current offerings. Lower barriers to entry has gone from buzz phrase to reality, especially online. 

New players are by default more nimble and laser-focused on what consumers want now (as opposed to yesterday) than the bigger legacy-laden brands they compete with. Several forces are making consumers immediately comfortable with (and even prefer) turning to a fresh new brand:

The new products and services come from entrepreneurs and companies that are natives in a land where communication with brands is two-way, participatory and less reverential, and as such can connect with consumers in a way that older brands often struggle to. It's about speaking truthfully; doing what you say, saying what you do and not exaggerating who you are.

Simplified, transparent
Consumers have had enough of false promises and conflicting marketing claims and are simply seeking brands they can trust. The fact that these companies are newly established, means that they often have ‘new’ business values – such as higher environmental, ethical and social standards – deeply baked into their business models and practices. Everything from transparency in labor practices, supply chains and design process, makes for reducing complexity – and therefore trusted – by consumers.

The opportunity to participate
As domestic production makes a comeback (because of factors like more affordable labor, a better financial climate and a surge of homegrown innovation) the U.S. manufacturing startup universe is experiencing a renaissance. And these startups are engaging at the local level giving consumers opportunities to participate and new ways to think about and connect with a brand. Choosing local is something people see as a way to make better choices. Whether it’s through offering financial support, by helping to shape a brand’s operations, or even by contributing to the product itself, customers of CLEAN SLATE BRANDS often feel more in control – a basic human desire – and that they have a meaningful relationship with the brand.

This trend won't wipe out all desire for brands with history and heritage. There will still be some consumers, at least some of the time, who will want to turn to established, proven products from trusted, well-respected brands, but CLEAN SLATE BRANDS is a trend driven by a profound shift in consumer preferences, and new businesses should question the attitude, tone, structure and approach of their brand. The characteristics behind successful innovative small businesses and fresh start-ups can be adopted by any brand, including old, big ones: seize the opportunity to do things differently. 

Here are just a couple of recent innovative examples via trendwatching:cleanslate


Robots for Humanity

Are robots the future of healthcare?

From microbots that scrape plaque from arteries to personal assistant robots that help care for patients, medical robots are transforming the face of healthcare.

A range of innovations, from new software to new devices, will transform the way all of us interact with the health-care system—making it easier for us to stay healthy and, when we do get sick, making it easier for medical professionals to treat us. Changing not just how medicine is practiced but who is practicing it. healthrobots copy 2

IBM's Watson—the same machine that beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy—is now churning through case histories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, learning to make diagnoses and treatment recommendations. This is one in a series of developments suggesting that technology may be about to disrupt health care in the same way it has disrupted so many other industries. Are doctors necessary? Just how far might the automation of medicine go? 

In the next few years, thousands of 'service robots' are expected to enter the healthcare sector. And that's no surprise considering the mounting financial difficulties the industry faces. Robots like the Aethon TUG can complete the work of three full-time employees, yet it "costs less than one full-time employee.

This new robotic breed is boasting features increasingly found in smartphones, gaming consoles and other consumer electronics, from advanced sensors and motion detectors to powerful microprocessors and voice activation. The service robots are self-aware, intelligent and able to navigate changing environments such as the chaotic hospital settings.

In Brazil and India, machines are already starting to do primary care, because there’s no labor to do it. They may be better than doctors. Mathematically, they will follow evidence—and they’re much more likely to be right. 

Earlier in 2012, robotics firm iRobot built an emerging technologies group in partnership with InTouch Health to put its AVA telepresence technology to better use. As a result, the two companies developed the Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, or RP-VITA, which combines iRobot's AVA telepresence units with InTouch health's distance education tools, creating a system that allows physicians to care for patients remotely.

In the future as the innovators imagine it—“Health 2.0,” as some people have started calling it—you would be in constant contact with the health-care system, although you’d hardly be aware of it. The goal would be to keep you healthy—and any time you were in danger of becoming unhealthy, to ensure you received attention right away. You might wear a bracelet that monitors your blood pressure, or a pedometer that logs movement and exercise. You could opt for a monitoring system that makes sure you take your prescribed medication, at the prescribed intervals. All of these devices would transmit information back to your provider of basic medical care, dumping data directly into an electronic medical record.

Some healthcare problems facing humans can be solved today by machines that function like humans.ibot

Medical Devices Changing Patient/Doctor Communication

When we think of breakthroughs in medicine, we conjure up images of new drugs or new surgeries. When we think of changes to the health-care system, byzantine legislation comes to mind. But according to a growing number of observers, the next big thing to hit medical care will be new ways of accumulating, processing, and applying data—revolutionizing medical care. 

At the recent FutureMed, (an annual conference on medical innovation that brings together financiers, physicians, and engineers from around the world) offer a future in which it is possible to deliver highly personalized care without necessarily having to do it in person, or even with a doctor.

Some examples:traigebot


Computer engineers at Vanderbilt University have teamed up with emergency medicine specialists at the school’s medical center to explore how robots could improve the chaotic process of prioritizing incoming ER patients. They envision robots, dubbed TriageBots, which would check patients in, gather their medical records, administer diagnostic tests and work with doctors to provide preliminary diagnoses and allocate medical attention according to need.

While people wait in the emergency room, they would sit in special "smart" chairs stocked with interactive diagnostic equipment that could relay more comprehensive data to medical personnel. Based on the level of urgency, the triage bots could either immediately notify medical staff or give the patient an estimated wait time. Mobile robots would circulate around the waiting room to check on the status of patients awaiting care and reallocate priorities if necessary.

It looks like Vecna Robotics’ battlefield soldier robot Bear will have some competition thanks to a U.S. robotics start-up developing similar robots. Formed by MIT alumni sometime around 2007, Hstar Technologies is partnering with a number of tech companies and medical institutions, including the Harvard Medical School and Veterans Hospital. Among their first products to enter the market will be the RehaBot, which exercises the upper and lower limbs of patients severely impaired by musculoskeletal and traumatic brain injuries.nurse

Hstar Technologies plans to market a military version of the robot called cRoNA (with the “c” likely standing for casualty).  It will be used to extract wounded soldiers from the battlefield, putting it in direct competition with Bear.  However, Bear’s lead of several years (and its more powerful strength) will give it an edge if they’re comparable in price.  The ability to move casualties without putting other soldiers in the line of fire has obvious benefits, but there’s yet another possible use for the robot.soldier

Another major project in the works is RoNA (Robotic Nursing Assistant), which can lift and move patients in excess of 136 kg (300 lbs).  As already pointed out by Japanese researchers working on a similar nursing assistant called RIBA, nurses risk serious injury when lifting patients.  According to Hstar Technologies, nurses sustain more injuries than any other U.S. profession and most occur when moving patients.



Natural But Enhanced Flavors. Innovative Color.
Color is one of the most important attributes of foods and beverages. As it is often said, we eat with our eyes first. Understanding sensory differences is critical for understanding the product, and ultimately, consumer preference. Consumer demand for more ‘natural’ foods and beverages has sent ingredient developers back to nature to unearth a broadening spectrum of naturally derived food and beverage coloring options.

IFT trend tour: Color and flavor innovation
At the IFT trade show in Anaheim, Jess Halliday followed the Flavor and Color Innovation trend tour, and spoke to some of the companies showing their latest developments at the show. Watch the video podcast here.

Highlights were:
Blending taste modulation technology with traditional real fruit flavors, especially exotic berries blended with spices and herbs and on going color innovation. Current research conducted on different sources—from fruits and vegetables to plants and marine creatures—shows promise in developing new naturally derived colorings/attributes or enhancing ones already in use.

Key trend themes for 2010 are inventive, useful and emotive.

Watching new developments:

Venom-Spiked Honey
A New Zealand company has applied for novel foods approval to market its honeybee venom to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. The company milks the venom from the Apis mellifera species of honeybee using an electronic system that causes the bees to sting through a latex film onto a glass plate for collection. It is then dried and administered through its Nectar Ease brand of venom-spiked Manuka honey.

A New Blue
WILD’s newest innovation fills a gap within the food and beverage color offerings. The acid-stable blue additive is the first of its kind to meet the consistent demand for natural blue color. Unlike previous attempts to achieve blue colors for applications by leveraging the stabilization of red cabbage at a neutral pH, WILD's new blue color additive is unique in that it is truly acid-stable. This proprietary technology will revolutionize the industry with beautiful "hues of blue" suitable for a wide range of food and beverage applications.