The Complete Guide to Innovative Products 2020

RICHARD|PUBLISHED ON JANUARY 22ND, 2020

The Complete Guide to Innovative Products
Electric boat experience in Copenhagen, Denmark

Looking for innovative products and experiences?

Are you known as an early adopter?

Want something that makes your life easier, but doesn’t make you look lame?

Look no further.

Innovative products are found in every industry and provide new solutions to problems you face. They don’t always have to be things. There are plenty of innovative services you can enjoy as well.

Check out how they are changing the world for the better. Or at least make life really fun.


Table of Contents

  1. How Does Innovation Improve Your Life?
  2. What Makes a Product Innovative?
  3. Innovative Products and Ethical Shopping
  4. What Are Different Types of Innovation?
  5. Who Needs Innovative Products?
  6. Where to Buy Innovative Products?
  7. What Can You Innovate?
  8. How Can You Innovate a Product?
  9. Conclusion

How Does Innovation Improve Your Life?

Bose QC 35
Noise cancelling headphones make any trip easier (BOSE QC35)

It’s possible to be a conscious consumer and still enjoy cutting-edge products.

The trick is to choose them carefully and use them for a lifetime.

Small improvements or features are rarely enough reason to replace a perfectly good item (we’re looking at you smartphones).

I use things until they fall apart, or my partner throws them out while I’m sleeping.

Some of the innovative products and services I use on a daily basis are:

  • Noise cancelling headphones while taking public transport
  • Water filters to decrease plastic waste
  • Ginger grammar software to check my writing
  • Air purifiers in places with poor air quality
  • Massage rollers to roll out knots(fascia)
  • CBD oil to decrease inflammation and anxiety
  • Portable laptop stands and keyboards to increase productivity
  • Aeropress coffee maker for delicious caffeine on the road
  • Grocery delivery when I’m not within walking or biking distance of a store

Other benefits of innovative products are:

Convenience

Save time and energy

Example: grocery delivery

Fun

Enjoyable to use

Example: drones or 3D printers

Problem Solving

Allow you to find solutions to everyday life

Example: Leatherman tools

Status

Provide prestige

Example: smart watches

Health

Improve fitness and well-being  

Example: better fitness equipment and medical devices

Productivity

Help you get more things done

Example: productivity software

Green

Minimize harm to the environment

Example: lithium ion batteries

Entertainment

Provide fun ways to pass time

Example: Streaming services like Netflix


What Makes a Product Innovative?

The key part of innovative is new. This can mean a unique approach to an existing product or a completely new one. It can also be a way to satisfy emerging requirements or unarticulated needs.

Examples of Innovative Products that Benefit Society and the Planet

LED lightbulbs

Last longer and are more energy efficient than previous types.

Hybrid cars

Consume less fuel and create less emissions.

Synthetic diamonds

Are superior to natural ones and don’t require human suffering to produce.

Book readers

Can store an almost infinite number of books without using paper.

Filtered water bottles

Can replace hundreds of plastic water bottles.

Solar panels

Harness the unlimited energy of the sun and are getting cheaper and more efficient every year.

Lab-grown meat

Can reduce the carbon emissions of traditional meat production, while not harming animals.

Biodegradable plastic

Made from plant or animal matter and do not take hundreds of years to decompose.

Lithium ion batteries

Store more energy while being lighter and more compact, and containing less toxic heavy metals.

Motion sensor lighting and faucets

Save energy and water by only running when needed.

Electric cars

Consume no fuel and are considerably cleaner.


Innovative Products and Ethical Shopping

Shopping consciously doesn’t have to be boring.

In the modern world, some products are just too neat to ignore. There are plenty of local options that are cutting edge.

Products or services that make life easier by saving time and energy for years to come.

We live out of a suitcase, so we’re extra careful about what we buy. We have rule that I like to call the “law of conservation of stuff”.

It means that in order to buy something, we have to get rid of something of equal or greater weight, since we have to carry it. This makes us a lot more careful about how we shop.

We also celebrate Christmas and birthdays by giving each other experiences, not gifts. But, this doesn’t mean we have to be technological luddites.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of overlap with innovative and ethical when it comes to products.

More and more innovative companies choose to manufacture domestically, since they don’t want their IP stolen and automation is driving costs down.

In fact, the number of workers in manufacturing are as high as they were in the 40s.

This increases the chance that innovative items are made more ethically and eco-friendly. It also usually means that planned obsolescence isn’t yet factored in.

So you can buy most innovative products guilt-free.


What Are Different Types of Innovation?

Lime Scooter
Fun Lime scooter experience in Paris, France

Although the definitions are somewhat fluid, there are 4 main types of innovation.

According to techblog they are:

Incremental

“…utilizes your existing technology and increases value to the customer (features, design changes, etc.) within your existing market.”

Example: gradually improving a product you currently have through simplification or optimization.

Disruptive

“…applying new technology or processes to your company’s current market.”

This is the sexy one that tech companies are founded on. It’s like when David kills Goliath and then sometimes becomes him.

This makes existing products or services more affordable or accessible to the general public.

Example: digital cameras vs film ones. And what happens to companies that don’t adapt.

Architectural

“…taking the lessons, skills and overall technology and applying them within a different market.”

Example: memory foam was originally developed by NASA to improve the safety of aircraft cushions. When it was released to public domain in the 1980s it was applied to everything from hospital rooms to your bedroom.

Radical

“…gives birth to new industries (or swallows existing ones) and involves creating revolutionary technology.”

Example: Apple coming out with iPhone, while Motorola was focused on call quality.

This paved the way for the smartphone industry, which changed how humans access information and communicate.

Disruptive vs Radical Innovation

The difference between radical and disruptive is that the former affects mainstream consumers from the beginning. While disruptive targets a smaller niche and expands.

Disruptive Innovation Radical Innovation
Small impactLarge impact
Short-termLong-term
NicheMainstream
Changes an existing industryCreates a new industry

Other Types of Innovation

Discontinuous Innovation

A new technology applied to solve an existing need. Think of the HP Inkjet Printer which replaced older printheads. It was superior since it’s more reliable and accurate than other models.

Breakthrough Innovation

A significant change to an existing product. Another printer example would be 3D printers. These can create engineering prototypes, customized jewelry and even prosthetic limbs.


Who Needs Innovative Products?

Call Bell
Wireless call bell at one of our favorite pizza restaurants in Paris, France

I guess besides penicillin, you don’t really need innovative products. But they sure are cool.

And they can make your life easier and more fun. They can even make the world a better place.

Everyone can benefit from the right innovative products.


Where to Buy Innovative Products?

Innovative products are best found online.

Unless you love Spencer Gifts. Then you can put on pants, take your Discover card and go dodge kiosks with the general public.


What Can You Innovate?

Everything.

Bread was around for thousands of years before someone decided to sell it sliced.


How Can You Innovate a Product?

America is a great environment for innovation, because you can protect your IP relatively well against the big boys, and it’s the largest consumer market in the world.

Innovation is harder for large companies. They have many fixed processes and their own cultures that might be resistant to change.

Like steering the Titanic, they’re slower and less responsive.

This is where you have the advantage. Innovation doesn’t usually happen all at once like lightning striking. It’s a process that takes time. So, it’s important to organize this process.

At the most basic level it is:

Set Goals

Goals can lead you in the right direction.

Think JFK’s stating his mission to go the moon in 1964. It was a pipe dream at the time, but it established the vision of the many people and united them under one cause.

It led to an incredible amount of innovation.

Develop Ideas

Listen for complaints, desires and ideas among your target demographic. This is one of the easier ways to find areas to improve.

Look for ways others have innovated and see how you can apply them to your idea.

But make sure to add your own insights. Like Henry Ford famously said, “if I had listened to customers, they would have wanted a faster horse.”

Implement

Putting your ideas into place is the next step. Check the U.S. Patent Office website to see if your idea is already taken. Then you can see if the changes are available to be implemented.

Start with a drawing. Then create a 3D mockup. Next create an actual prototype.

Analyze

Check the results with users. Get honest feedback from customer groups.

Repeat


Conclusion

Innovative products come in many categories. And shopping for them doesn’t have to negatively impact the world.

Buying from local companies that manufacture domestically can help.

This doesn’t mean you have to buy every cool gadget that graces your browser.

It may be hard, but we believe you can enjoy innovative products responsibly. And not spend your entire paycheck on them.

Thank you for reading!

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