Open Innovation Creates Greeting Card Success Story
Greetings cards laced with augmented reality breathe new life into the card industry.
Hallmark Cards, Inc., United States
Greetings card manufacturer Hallmark has catapulted its products into the digital era after searching for new technologies via an open innovation broker.
Greeting Card Innovation
The days when a greeting card just offered the recipient a simple written devotion are long gone. New technologies have brought us singing cards, recordable cards, DVD cards, and cards with surprising endings to name but a few. But innovation does not stand still and Hallmark Cards, Inc continues to push the technology envelope still further.
To pursue its aim of coming up with innovative product lines the company needed some external help. So it approached an open innovation broker, NineSigma, to help it to find a technology that would allow customers to be able to augment their personal expressions with digital platforms.
Searching for an Open Innovation Provider
A request for proposal was sent out to the broker’s network of providers and Hallmark sat back and waited for the responses. The RFP created a significant amount of interest and proposals came in from all over the world from places as far afield as Europe, Asia, North and South America, Oceania and the Middle East. From this Hallmark selected half a dozen of the most interesting responses and eventually picked German company Metaio.
The provider attracted particular attention because it had been experimenting with augmented reality (AR) and had worked with Popular Science magazine on a special augmented reality cover.
Hallmark worked with Metaio to kit out its cards with AR so that they reveal 3-D animated displays when held up to a computer Web camera. All a recipient has to do is place their card in front of a webcam and the computer monitor will show animated characters and words sitting on top of the card.
And that’s not all; the animation tracks with the movement of the card so when the card is moved, the animated display rotates along in full 3-D. In many of the cards, additional animated scenes appear when the card is turned in different angles.
Open Innovation: The Fast Track to Product Development
By leveraging the broker’s vast global resources Hallmark was able to find a technology partner much sooner than it would have through other means. The broker delivered a number of suitable candidates which slashed months off the time the company could have spent had decided they decided to go it alone.
It also gave the greetings cards manufacturer the opportunity to tap into an area of expertise that it didn’t possess within in its own infrastructure.
All of this enabled Hallmark to get their new products to market in a much shorter timeframe. In fact the cards were on shop shelves within one year of the project being initiated with the open innovation broker. That’s pretty much breakneck speed.
The first cards were launched in January 2010 in time for Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards soon followed and more cards will soon be rolled off the production lines.
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