28 September 2007

New Light Bulb

LEDs are quickly becoming the illumination technology of choice for avant-garde design (cars and homes) and are very efficient in terms of light production per unit of energy consumed. Now a new player appears on scene: the microwave-driven electrode-free lamp from Ceravision.

The technology involves using a microwave source is focused onto a small cavity and ionizes a noble gas containing metal halides.

The Economist reports:

"Because the lamp has no filament, the scientists who developed it think it will last for thousands of hours of use—in other words, for decades. Moreover, the light it generates comes from what is almost a single point, which means that the bulbs can be used in projectors and televisions. Because of this, the light is much more directional and the lamp could thus prove more efficient than bulbs that scatter light in all directions. Its long life would make the new light ideal for buildings in which the architecture makes changing light bulbs complicated and expensive. The lamps' small size makes them comparable to light-emitting diodes but the new lamp generates much brighter light than those semiconductor devices do. A single microwave generator can be used to power several lamps."

Ceravision is offering this option as a simple to assemble low cost option to lighting. I am curious to see its development.

27 September 2007

Heineken Bottles and the Replacement Template

I read in clusterflock that Herr Heineken ordered the design of square-sectioned bottles that could be used as bricks once the contents were consumed. He came up with this idea after seeing that bottles could not be easily recycled in some areas of the world and went to waste. These areas also happen to be short of constructing materials. The bottles, designed by architect N. John Habraken have also added texture in its sides to aid the cementing of bottles to one another.

This is a good example of the replacement template from Goldenberg and Mazursky excellent book. The replacement template states that new product ideas can be generated by using a component existent in the product or the immediate environment in order to fulfill a required function. In this case, one object of the environment (bricks) are absent or scarce. In terms of Goldenberg and Mazursky template we can think that bricks are excluded and their function is replaced by other elements of the environment (disposed of bottles).

If you are interested in reading a little more about using bottles for construction, take a look at this post in treehugger.

13 September 2007

Water Purifying Bottle

Michael Pritchard, from Ipswich (UK), has developed a water bottle that can purify water via a filter mechanism. The filter keeps away anything larger than 15 nanometers such as bacteria and viruses. It is not clear to me how other water pollutants are dealt with, in particular heavy metals and organic compounds.

With a price tag of 190 pound sterling, the bottle does not come cheap. But around 4000 liters of drinking water can be produced without replacing the filter.

(via digg)

12 September 2007

The Jesus Diet

Being in a creative industry allows me to stop working every now and then and look through the window for a few minutes letting my mind wander a bit. I was thinking whether Jesus (Christ) could have been fat, as it is always portrayed as having a rather slender figure. Then I thought that a good way to make enthusiastic Christians lose weight would be to create a "Jesus Diet". What a great idea for a new product!

Of course, two seconds later I realize that such an obvious idea must have been done. A quick search reveals plenty of Jesus diet pages and sites. Read the story from the BBC from two years ago. The first hit is here. Go here is if you want to know whether Jesus was a "married vegetarian monk" (I like the tiny decorative halved avocados).

7 September 2007

Female Urinal

Female standing urination has recently caught some attention. Some people believe in this product and there is a website in construction devoted to its cause. I do see the advantages but I do not see a truly commercial application. Skimming this "article" I realize that female urinals are planned to be installed in stalls. Why would a public building or a restaurant install a female urinal instead of a normal toilet? The only advantage of the urinal in mens toilet is to save space by placing the urinals onto a wall instead of having all the toilet users lock themselves into spacious stalls.

The proponents of the female urinal are basing most of their argument in the fact that urinating positions (men stand, women sit or squat) are mostly socially constructed. They just miss the point that the female urinal as an investment is more expensive and less flexible than investing in having cleaner standard toilets.

In this blog I aim to have interesting discussion about new products and innovations. I just posted this topic as an example of a product idea that brings a standard product (male urinal) into a new context (female toilet). The problems are that (i) the proponents stress the social point to a greater extent than the business point and (ii) they are solving a problem the hard way: using bricks and mortar rather than a sponge with bleach.

5 September 2007

Coase and the Internet

I like this paragraph that I read today in The Guardian:

"Ronald Coase had noticed something odd about capitalism. The received wisdom, among western economists, was that individuals should compete in a free market: planned economies, such as Stalin's, were doomed. But in that case, why did huge companies exist, with centralised operations and planning? The Ford Motor Company was hailed as a paragon of American business, but wasn't the Soviet Union just an attempt to run a country like a big company? If capitalist theory was correct, why didn't Americans, or British people, just do business with each other as individual buyers and sellers in the open market, instead of organising themselves into firms?

The answer - which won Coase a Nobel prize - is that making things requires collaboration, and finding and linking up all the people who need to collaborate costs money. Companies emerge when it becomes cheaper to gather people, tools and material under one roof, rather than to go out looking for the best deal every time you need a few hours' labour, or a part for a car. But the internet, Tapscott argues, is radically lowering the cost of collaborating. Companies - certainly big companies - are losing their raison d'etre. Individuals, and tiny companies, can collaborate without corporate behemoths to organise them. Considering how many of us spend our weekdays working for big companies, and then spend our weekends giving our money to them, this is a far-reaching thought."

It is from an article on Wikinomics, the new book by Dan Tapscott.