Tag Archives: design

Airline Innovation

I wrote this post in response to a wired article about black boxes.

After having watched numerous Air Emergency shows, I feel that what’s really missing in the cockpit are simple cameras that look out over the airplane, highlighting sections like the wing, engines, tail section etc.

What struck me the most was that pilots were only relying on instruments and the external view to the front of the plane to guide their behavior. In addition, what they should have had is a “gods view” of their plane – so that they could see exactly what was happening. There were so many episodes where passengers were seeing flames shooting out of the engines, but the pilot had no view of them and ended up making bad decisions because of the lack of visual information.

Good stuff to know on who actually own’s the idea generated in school

Having had a lot of ideas and developed a few of them in and out of school, I found this to be an interesting article on intellectual property of products designed in schools.


Semester’s over and updates to the blog are overdue

I’ve got 2 days left in my extended interview/mini-internship and I’ve promised myself to write at least 5 new blog posts over the next 10 days. There’s so much I need to capture for myself, including my learnings from this semester, and my anticipation of my next extended interview/mini-internship at GravityTank.

I need to come up with a better name for what I’m doing. I’m not sure Minternship or Exterview will do.

Great article on the design of the Samsung Instinct for Sprint

Parrish, head of the Experience Planning group at Motorola pointed me in the direction of this article on the development of the Samsung Instinct for Sprint. The discussion came about as we were talking about how large companies such as Microsoft, Boeing and Target were using smaller design groups to spur the larger company to take greater chances. The talk then led to the concept of open innovation, which was a topic I had just finished writing a paper on.

Anyway, here’s the link:

The podcasts I listen to.

I was talking to my mentor/advisor/professor/friend Chris Conley and we were discussing which podcasts we listen to. I couldn’t find an easy way of sharing the list short of showing him my ipod and I ended up emailing it to him instead. I realised that I’ve had this conversation with a few of my friends and thought I would share the list of the podcasts I listen to and get suggestions on any new ones you think I might find interesting. I also decided to add it as a permanent list to my blog. 

  • BusinessWeek Innovation of the Week
  • Fareed Zakaria GPS
  • The Economist
  • Frontline World / PBS
  • Harvard Business Video Ideacast
  • Knowledge @ Wharton – Video Interviews
  • Negotiation Tip of the Week
  • Wall Street Journal  – What’s News
  • 60 Minutes Podcast
  • TedTalks
  • RadioEconomics.com
  • NPR Foreign Dispatch
  • NPR Hourly News Summary
  • NPR World Story of the day
  • Wired Science Video Podcast
  • BBC Global News
  • BusinessWeek Global Outlook
  • Nova | PBS
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • PodRunner
  • Science Channel
  • Tara Stiles Yoga
  • The History Network 
  • Luxolog Modcast
  • GDGT Weekly – Thank Matt
  • NPR Planet Money
  • Discovery Space
Most of these, I listen to every day or as often as they are updated. As I go down to the bottom of the list, it’s more infrequent.
Also, if any of you know how I can get listen to these podcasts on a blackberry, that would be great. 

Wrap up from the Institute of Design’s Strategy Conference


I have some time this morning to write a quick summary of the Institute of Design’s Strategy conference which happened last week at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. This was one of the best conferences I’ve attended. Most of the speakers were excellent, the crowds were packed and there was definitely a sense of optimism in the air, quite unlike the prevailing sentiments you can find gracing any of our newspapers today.

Having an amazing seat at the third row didn’t hurt either – changes it from watching to engaging.

Some quick summaries of the presentations I thought were most interesting with my key takeaways.

Bill Buxton – Bill is a principle researcher at Microsoft. One of his points was that the success of design rests on where it’s situated within a company. When design is hidden under layers of management, it rarely has a chance to shine. As a case in point, Bill highlighted the timeline of Apple’s success, noting that Jonathan Ive was employed by Apple several years before it’s first big product hit, the iMac. It took Steve Jobs taking over the company to bring design up to a level where it could affect change. Oh, one more point which Bill made – never call the people who buy your products a consumer. When companies look at people through the lens of “consumption”, they will rarely be able to partner with them to create the kind of innovations which drive company growth, even during recessions.

Scott Cook – Interesting story on the founding and continued success of Intuit. I liked his quote ” Seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else thought”. I had a chance to speak with Scott at the reception and there were a lot of details missing from the story, it was nevertheless interesting to speak to him. There was a point made by Scott that I never quite got an answer for – he mentioned that executives in companies are layers away from what customers are saying and thus can rarely spot the breakthrough innovations. He gave an anecdotal story that even at HP, Dave Packard turned away many of the ideas that later came to be successful. Not sure how to validate a comment like that but it that’s true, what can executives do to be closer to the needs of their customers. Does the modern day executive need to pull a Henry Vth, disguising themselves to be closer to their guest.

Matt Mason – Co-Founder of Wedia and author of the The Pirate’s Dilemma, gave one of the conference’s best presentations about youth culture, piracy and what companies can do to combat it. He had many points to make but the ones that I thought were particularly interesting were companies use openness to combat obscurity such as Nike selling tricked out versions of Air Force One after Bathing Ape released pirated copies of Air Force One with their own crazy artwork. The next point he made was to sell what can’t be be pirated, either convenience or experience. As an example, he cited the popularity of iTunes which has sold billions of dollars of music when the music is available for free on the net, albeit for a lot more work.

These were just some of the highlights from the conference and speakers who I thought were particularly interesting. On a side note, I ended up taking these notes on my trusty but aging Blackberry Pearl and emailing them to myself and buying more than 3 books while listening to the speakers (damn you Amazon 1-click purchasing).

A friend and I are working on a next-gen product for the wireless presentation space and I found this behavior striking whereby interactions with the audience happen not just through verbal feedback but through the blogging of speeches, visits to the speaker’s websites and purchases of books etc, all while still listening to them speak. We’ll need to see how we can incorporate some of these capabilities within our product.

Heading to the Institute of Design’s Strategy Conference

I’m finishing my breakfast as I write, heading over to catch my school, the Institute of Design’s annual Strategy Conference. We have a great line up this year and I’m especially interested to hear what Bill Buxton has to say about Sketching User Experience. There’s a short interview with him which you can read here.

Other speakers who seem promising are Claudia Kotchka, EX-VP of Design and Innovation at P&G who has attended our conference in prior years as well. I say ex vp of design since Bruce Nussbaum reported this morning that Claudia is leaving P&G. I’m as surprised as Bruce is but more curious as to where she’s headed next. Talent like that usually can spot trends and opportunities ahead of others.
Speaking of Bruce Nussbaum, he doesn’t know it but he’s one of the reasons why I’m at the Institute of Design. It was his articles on Innovation and the Institute of Design that led me to explore further after which I decided to leave my job in Boston and move to Chicago for school. Thanks Bruce and if I get to see you in person at this conference, I’ll thank you in person.

Well, it’s about that time so I must head off. Thankfully, the MCA is 4 blocks away and I’ll keep you all posted on the conference.