Open Innovation Community Create Novel Products

Published Dec-15-14

A collaborative online and physical community co-create an innovative induction cooker.

FirstBuild, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Community Create Novel Products When super smart and creative people work together on challenges and projects, the results can be phenomenal. FirstBuild is an open innovation success story that is going from strength to strength, where a community of industrial designers, engineers, scientists and makers from other industries, collaborate to innovate and solve tough engineering problems.

The project is a partnership between GE Appliances and Local Motors, two entities known for their forward thinking open innovation approaches.

Next Generation of Appliances

According to FirstBuild, the partnership is "a new model for inventing, building and bringing the next generation of major appliances to the market".

The starting point of the collaborative process is ideation, where community members share their thoughts and ideas about something they would like to see being created. This sets off a dialogue as concepts are discussed and voted on.

Those that make it through this stage go on to the making phase at FirstBuild's micro factory which employs advanced manufacturing techniques and rapid prototyping. Products can be produced quickly on a small scale and are then sold in a dedicated web store and on physical shelves.

Open Innovation Success

One of FirstBuild's successes has been the development of the Paragon Induction Cooktop. It started with a FirstBuild community member submitting an idea for a cooktop that could be controlled via wireless temperature sensor. The benefit of such an appliance is for precise cooking of temperature-critical foods such as fondues and custards.

After the idea was submitted and voted up by other members of the community it was evaluated before going onto the making and prototype stage. At the start of this phase, two community challenges were issued. One was to design the cooktop's hardware and the other was to design its user interface. Lots of great ideas were submitted and the community voted on the ones they thought were the best. The resulting prototype and its associated app has been heavily influenced by the specialist crowd.

The induction cooktop is linked via wireless to the in-pot temperature sensor. Once the exact cooking temperature has been set, the sensor continuously monitors the cooktop and wirelessly sends it information. This allows the cookpot to automatically adjust the heat output to maintain the set temperature.

Currently, the prototype is undergoing some refinement, and pre-orders will be taken in 2015.

FirstBuild says that all contributions are recognized and that this recognition can come in several forms. For example, monetary compensation, access to tools and resources or promoting the talents of contributors.

Three Cheers for Open Innovation

Once again, open innovation demonstrates how it can provide win-win scenarios for all involved. Challenge members receive intellectual stimulation, recognition and/or financial compensation, invigorating and productive working relationships are formed and consumers get great new products.

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