Tag Archives: product development

Innovation: An Amphibious Prosthetic Leg

In 2004, U.S. Marine Corp. veteran Dan Lasko lost his left leg while serving in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, he is far from the only casualty of war; roughly 6% of all injured veterans have lost a limb. This makes it critical to innovate new solutions to help veterans return to an active lifestyle.

An active lifestyle was very important to Dan Lasko; the 33-year old has two young sons and all are active swimmers. But Lasko faced a unique problem in that that amputees cannot easily swim; prosthetics legs are not designed to go between land and water in a functional way.

In a collaboration between Northwell Health, J. Walter Thompson New York, and Lasko, the team designed and developed an amphibious prosthetic leg. Using extensive design and testing, “The Fin” was developed – 3-D-printed prosthetic leg that can help one naturally walk into the water, swim, and even dive.

Innovation changes lives.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the steps of the innovation process.
  2. Students: What are the critical factors to successfully developing a new product?
  3. Show the video of The Fin’s development: https://youtu.be/m8KmWGZvkI4
  4. More information is also available at: https://www.northwell.edu/about/news/press-releases/northwell-returns-amputees-water-creating-first-3d-printed-amphibious-prosthetic-leg
  5. There are numerous other innovations that are focused on improving lives. Divide students into teams and have team search for a similar problem, and solution, to the one discussed in this case.

Source: Ad Week  

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Drink Up!

water

Do you drink enough water during the day? Sure, you might intend to drink up regularly, but intentions don’t always match actions. The problem came to a head for an entrepreneur in Minnesota when she continued to experience headaches. The problem, not drinking enough water. And, as often is the case, a problem sends consumers in search of new solutions. Thus, the Hidrate Spark “smart” water bottle was developed.

This is no ordinary water bottle. It features an innovative design and technology that tracks how much water is consumed, lights up when it’s time for more water, and also connects to smartphones and wearable devices such as FitBit. The Bluetooth-connected app records the customer’s height, weight, and activity level. Using location, the app adjusts water goals based on temperature, humidity, and elevation.

The BPA free water bottle holds 24 fluid ounces, has a battery life of one year, and even includes a “don’t leave me behind” tracking – just in case you forgot it behind.

So, go ahead and drink up!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Look around the classroom at the various types of water bottles carried by students. Poll students about how many water bottles they have, and if they believe that they drink enough water.
  2. Show the Kickstarter campaign and videos: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/582920317/hidrateme-smart-water-bottle?ref=nav_search
  3. Show the Hidrate Spark Web site: http://hidratespark.com/
  4. Since water bottles are ubiquitous, this product can be used to illustrate the importance of product differentiation.
  5. Discuss environmental scan factors: social trends, economic trends, technology, competition, regulations.
  6. Divide students into teams and have each team complete an environmental scan for this product.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune  

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Self-Driving Minivan from Waymo and Chrysler

chrysler

It seems that we can’t get enough of self-driving vehicles. The technology keeps advancing rapidly, and now technology and automotive companies are teaming up to bring self-driving cars to the roads as soon as possible. Recently, Waymo (the self-driving car company spun-off from Google) and Fiat Chrysler announced that they are ready to deploy a fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans at the end of January.

Waymo is making all of the technology itself, building the cameras, sensors, and mapping technology. This work is bringing technology costs down by approximately 90% – from $75,000 in 2009 to $7,500 today. Working with Fiat Chrysler to integrate technology with the car’s architecture, the minivan is built with the specific mission of driving itself. Vehicles will take to the roads in another month in Mountain View, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz. (The roomy, seven-person minivan does have a steering wheel though as it is required by many state laws.)

The van is equipped with three rings of 360 degree LIDAR sensors to give the vehicle both long and short range vision, allowing vehicles to see objects that are very close as well as spot tiny objects that are farther away. Waymo stated that it has more than 2.5 million miles on self-driving cars, and an additional one billion miles in simulations.

Ready for a ride?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the video of the Waymo/Chrysler minivan:

https://youtu.be/SwsEn7P97nw

  1. Another video of an interview with the CEO of Waymo: https://youtu.be/-pO-MIHGlgc
  2. Discuss competition: What are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team compare Waymo’s minivan with a competitive product. What are the points of difference (what makes the product different from competition)?
  4. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  New York Times, The Verge, CNBC, CNET, other news sources

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