Open Innovation Fuels BMW’s Ideation Process
BMW's Co-Creation Lab seeks ideas for innovative car interior concepts.
For car giant BMW, open innovation offers plenty of opportunities to increase its product pipeline and to integrate external ideas into its ideation process.
One of its innovation approaches is the Co-Creation Lab, a permanent platform where car enthusiasts can share their ideas and opinions about the future of cars and co-create products and services with the company.
The lab also hosts innovation competitions such as the BMW Group Interior Design Contest that challenged the crowd to come up with innovative ideas to personalise the interior of cars.
In framing and scoping the open innovation contest BMW asked participants to think of how their car could fit their individual needs in every imaginable situation such as business trips, school runs and traffic jams.
There were three categories of ideas:
Function and convenience – individualized features and services that make handling easier and/or provide extra comfort.
Style and design – focusing on style aesthetics to give the interior an individual touch.
Experience – participants were asked to consider the car as part of the home to come up with ideas for elements that may be missing from the vehicle’s interior.
More than 1,000 people responded to the call in September and October 2010, and 750 ideas were submitted. Members also submitted 13,500 comments and 8,000 messages. Between them, the most active participants submitted more than 100 ideas.
The comments and user evaluations were important components of the contest as members were able to learn from the collective knowledge of the community and improve and elaborate on their ideas.
Interior Design Contest Winners
The contest winners were chosen by a panel of experts drawn from BMW and different fields of automotive transportation.
The overall winning idea was the ‘Colour Matching Camera’ - a camera is mounted in the car’s interior that detects the colours of the clothes the occupant/s is/are wearing and then hidden LED lighting will adjust lighting to match the colour of those outfits.
In second place was ‘BMW Fluid’. Here the colour of the interior changes according to the emotions of the people travelling in the car. Fragrance and ambient lighting would change accordingly, offering people a new experience every time they drive.
And in third place was ‘Customizable Clip-On Interior Panels’. The interior is enhanced by adding fabricated/molded panels with colours and graphics that suit the owner’s tastes. The panels can be for the dashboard, front and rear speaker sections, centre console and kick panel amongst other interior locations.
There were no cash prizes on offer, but the winner was invited to BMW in Munich, Germany to present their idea to developers at the company’s Research and Innovation Centre.
Open Innovation Benefits
BMW’s adoption of open innovation provides the company with numerous benefits. These include forming long-term and deeper relationships with users; access to a wider and more diverse pool of ideas, observations and perspectives (a very cost-effective form of market research); and the ability to leverage external brain power to create more user-centric products and services.
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