Open Innovation Contest to Cut Our Carbon Footprint

Published Nov-20-10

Greener Gadgets Design Competition uncovers creative ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Greener Gadgets Design Cometition, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Contest to Cut Our Carbon Footprint Innovators and entrepreneurial minds are turning their intellectual firepower on how open innovation can benefit the common good. One of the most pressing issues of our time is the damage being done to the planet by climate change and the Greener Gadgets Design Competition challenges inventors to come up with the next generation of greener gadgets that are kinder to the planet.

The rules of this open innovation contest are simple; designs must seek to minimize the environmental impact of the gadget at every stage of its production cycle.

Greener Gadgets Winner

The winner of the 2010 competition was decided by public voting and an expert panel at the Greener Gadgets 2010 conference in New York in February. First place was awarded to the AUG/Living Goods Program, a conceptual mobile phone application that will scan product barcodes and tell a consumer how far the food has travelled, if the product is in season, its price history and the consumer’s own purchasing history.

This green gizmo aims to help the eco conscious shopper make informed choices about the food they purchase. To use the application a consumer points their mobile device’s camera at the barcode on a food item and then the data will pop up on the screen.

The benefits to the environment of this application are that it;

• Encourages consumers to reduce their personal carbon footprint by buying
locally sourced food
• Supports local farming industries
• Promotes food with higher nutritional value

The AUG/Living Goods Program was designed by John Healy, a former student at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. He was awarded $3,000 prize money and is planning to build the app into numerous mobile phone systems including versions for Android phones and iPhones.

Although Healy hadn’t designed a new gadget per se, the judges were impressed that his game changing innovation encouraged others to make greener purchasing decisions and therefore to live in a more sustainable way.

Runners Up

The second prize was awarded to Empower Chair, a rocking chair for use in public spaces that allows users to charge their mobile devices as they gently sway to and fro. Third place went to IllumiCharger, a USB device that charges USB gadgets for free. The patent pending invention recharges cells phones and MP3 players with excess indoor light energy that it collects.

Open Innovation Contests

Competitions have long been used as catalysts for innovation as they unleash a tidal wave of creativity. All that is required of organisers is to set a few parameters and offer some guidance as to what a desired end product will do, and innovators will do the rest.

By making them open to anyone, open innovation contests tend to attract a broad range of expertise that looks at old problems with new eyes and fresh perspectives, unburdened by the conventions and traditions of a particular industry.

The 2010 Greener Gadgets Design Competition not only resulted in three innovative first, second and third place winners, but it also attracted dozens of other truly original ideas. Although they didn’t make it onto the winner’s podium many are being developed further as they offer consumers ingenious ways to tackle climate change.

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