The best inventions we found at CES 2018

This year, CES, the country’s biggest consumer electronics show in the world, featured nearly 3,900 exhibitors covering more than 2.75 million square feet, making it the biggest floor in the show’s history. Team Quirky represented products invented by real people like you at the show across two booths. Among the Quirky inventions which were featured:

– Air
– Spacebar
– Chirp
– Helix
– Trek
Cruze
– Ventu
– Silo
Pawcet
Squeak

Watch the video of Quirky President Gina Waldhorn touring one of our booths.

That’s not all, at CES, we walked the floor at Eureka Park on a mission to find the coolest new inventions. Below are a few of the products we discovered.

  • Jooki: Celebrate the joy of music with your kids without the screen. Hear Theo’s story here
  • Shapescale: This smart scale will change how you view your fitness progress. Hear Charlie’s story here
  • Siren: Meet the sock that can change it all for diabetes patients. Hear Maryam’s story here
  • Oblend: The first essential oil dispensary is here. Hear Jim’s and Matt’s story here
  • WiSurf: Customize your wireless charging station with Wi Surf. Hear Lucas’s story here
  • Hypnos: Find a new way to start thinking and feeling better with Hypnos. Hear Kevin’s story here
  • My Special Aflac Duck™: This cute robot helps kids cope with cancer. Hear Hannah’s story here

There were many more incredible inventions, head on over to our Instagram to see a few more of our highlighted inventions from CES!

Asking for Faster Horses: Why Big Brands Are Struggling

This week the WSJ published an article detailing Unilever’s struggle to maintain market share as independent and local startups continue to usurp the once all-powerful market leaders. The Journal details how they’ve tried everything from corporate restructuring, to hiring “game changers”, and full on copycat tactics, all to little avail.

Outside of what the article mentions, Unilever has also been one of the most publicly aggressive companies to partner with early-stage startups as part of their Foundry initiative.

All of these efforts are to be applauded and given A’s for effort (I’m not a shareholder, so I can be generous), but something is clearly missing for Unilever, and for many other Fortune 500 companies whose CEO’s are waking up in a cold sweat wondering when their Dollar Shave Club is going to launch. I have one hypothesis for what’s wrong:

Their efforts are reactive.

What’s stopping Unilever and other global brands from creating the next Halo Top given all of the resources in their arsenal (money, research, technology, patents) is their need to have a meticulously defined goal. To know where they want to end up. Big brands innovate in response to solve a brief, to hit a financial goal, to address a new target market everyone is making money on but them. Their responsibility to shareholders forces them to be managerial thinkers instead of entrepreneurial thinkers, which would see them create opportunity from the means at their disposal versus always working to hit a goal already established.

That’s where open innovation can provide the advantage. Let an open innovation program do the entrepreneurial thinking for you. How?

First, stop structuring your innovation programs solely around briefs. It’s the Henry Ford “they would have said faster horses” conundrum. To employ an entrepreneurial mindset, give your crowd the means, and let them create the opportunity. Share research, patents, and past experience with them. Inspire them and invite them into your world with dedicated challenges, but don’t sell yourself short by ONLY ever asking them to solve a specific challenge. Let the ideas flow like the salmon of Capistrano.

Second, listen to what they’re already telling you. How are you capturing the voice of your customer (VoC), voice of your employee (VoE), or a combination (the voice of your customer through your employees- VoCE). They’re out there asking for products that don’t exist yet all the time – through their complaints, through their suggestions, when they search on Amazon or Google, when they post on Kickstarter or submit on Quirky. A thoughtful data science practice can collect, organize, and analyze this data to uncover invaluable product, feature ideas, or whitespace that can be a game changer if you only open yourself up to the possibility.

The beauty of open innovation is that you’re not the ones doing the innovating! You no longer need to “come up with an innovation that solves X” or “respond to the VR trend with innovation Y.” Accept that you have no idea where you might end up and you won’t find yourself stuck selling just a faster horse.

Read our article on Linkedin: 

Read more from Gina: https://goo.gl/e1263P

Standing Up to the #CESSoMale Fail

Last week CES was exposed for the obnoxious lack of diversity on their Keynote Stage. Not one single female speaker, and almost 100% white men. After getting bombarded with blogs and tweets from major tech influencers, diversity advocates, and Fortune 1000 corporations calling for change, they issued the world’s worst excuse. In a nutshell, they said zero women “fit their criteria” for a coveted keynote spot.

Then that response got slammed and slammed again. Naturally. Because it’s pathetic.

CES could have easily added a handful of women and people of color to the keynote stage by expanding the lineup, or simply asking a few men to swap out their spots (of which I’m guessing many of them would have been happy to do). Or hire a badass PR agency like Small Girls to spell it out for them.

The good news? A handful of gender avengers have stepped up to launch their own programming track at CES dedicated to a conversation around the importance of diversity, and showcasing what CES was so blind to see. If you’re planning on attending the show in January, follow and add these sessions to your calendar to get an unbiased view of the incredible work being achieved:

Your fearless female leaders from Quirky (@gwaldhorn and @LissaRegets) will be hanging in the Quirky Invention Suite all week, so come pay us a visit too!

Quirky’s Invention Process Explained

If you have an idea for a product or enjoy product design and helping others with their invention projects, Quirky is for you! Inventing on the Quirky platform is simple and it’s easy to track your invention from beginning to end. With Quirky’s invention platform, there are (5) five stages, or steps your invention goes through on its way to becoming a store-ready product: (1) Concept, (2) Review, (3) Development, (4) Production and (5) Launched.

Once you have setup your free Quirky.com account, you kick off the (1) Concept phase by starting a submission and give us an overview of your brilliant idea! 

You may choose to keep your submission private or make it public. Private keeps your invention between you and the Quirky team but prevents you from tapping into the community for help. Public shares your invention with the Quirky community, where other members can offer help with features and product design. Most members choose public as they come to Quirky with an idea and need help to push the invention over the finish line. With public inventions, community members are incentivized to contribute in projects in which you’ve shared “influence” (in other words, they have the opportunity to earn royalties for their contribution). When all areas of your invention are complete, you may submit it to the (2) Review phase.

While you’re invention is in the (2) Review phase, we begin our evaluation and capture feedback from the Quirky community on your invention to better understand its viability. In this phase, you are no longer able to edit your idea and the focus shifts to collecting market research on crowdsourcing competitive products understand the landscape.

Next up is (3) Development. If your invention made it to this phase, congratulations! We think your idea really has potential and we dedicate resources to further develop your concept. This is where we create industrial design sketches & renders, test materials, build prototypes and analyze price points to understand if your product has a place in the market. We’ll be sharing updates along the way as your invention is being refined. 

If after all of this, we believe we’ve found a winner, your invention will move into the (4) Production phase. This is where your product is being built at the factory and is on its way to hitting shelves soon!

Last but definitely not least is (5) Launched. It’s time to earn that cash! This is where we showcase your invention’s full journey and link to our Quirky Shop for shoppers everywhere to buy your invention.  And don’t forget – every time it’s sold, you earn! We share our product royalty 50/50 with the community. When you succeed, we do too!

 

 

QUIRKY, HSN, and Randi Zuckerberg to Host Invention Search in NYC

Calling all inventors and entrepreneurs in the greater New York City area. We want to hear your brilliant ideas!

Quirky and leading entertainment and lifestyle retailer, HSN, are hosting an open call to inventors and entrepreneurs to pitch their product ideas “Shark Tank” style at Randi Zuckerberg’s Sue’s Tech Kitchen in New York City on December 9th 2017.

The chance to pitch HSN and Quirky executives will be first come first serve. Check out https://quirky.com/brilliant-product-idea/ for more information on how to participate.

The product search is a component of HSN’s American Dreams initiative – a program designed to tap into the joy and excitement of discovering new entrepreneurs, and then collaborate with strategic partners to find, educate and train inventors as they bring their products to market.

Sue’s Tech Kitchen is a tech-fueled wonderland for the mouth and the mind. Envisioned by bestselling author and serial entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg, designed by a NASA scientist, and featuring technologies from all corners of the modern imagination, Sue’s Tech Kitchen offers a STEM-inspired adventure for the whole family that empowers kids to engage with tomorrow’s technologies and revolutionizes family dining in the process.

Quirky, Ace Hardware Select Two Inventions for Hurricane Recovery

In August and September, something terrible happened.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria raged havoc.

Millions of people were affected: their homes and cars destroyed, access to power lost and food scarce.

Billions of dollars in damages piled up across multiple US cities and Caribbean countries.

Many stood by, hoping and praying for the people affected.

Quirky and Ace Hardware partnered and took action.

We polled our community, some of which were affected by the storms, to uncover the biggest problems people faced as they started recovery efforts.

And the Hurricane Recovery Invention Challenge was born.

For one month, our Quirky Community of thinkers, tinkers, makers and inventors went to work, creating thoughtful solutions to various issues – from safety and structural damage indicators and removing flood water quickly and efficiently to portable power solutions and moving debris, we received hundreds of useful ideas.

The decision was tough. A few weeks ago, we released the shortlist of the top 20 invention ideas and today we are announcing the 2 that have made the final cut.

Before we announce the winners, we want to thank every inventor who submitted ideas for the challenge and send a special thanks to all the brave individuals who have volunteered their time on the ground in these communities – helping people rebuild and recover from the devastation these storms have left behind.

The winners of the ACE Hardware Hurricane Recovery Invention Challenge are…(drumroll please)…

The eCharger by Constantine Orfan

This invention is an ingenious portable power bank the size of a keychain that is powered by a 9-volt battery. This is a great alternative to traditional chargers when you are on-the-go or in an area with no access to power.

The SOS Flashlight by Paulette Blankenship

This is no normal flashlight. It not only lights your way but has handy features that let’s someone in need send distress signals to identify their location to emergency personnel and others around who could help.

Congrats Constantine and Paulette! We love these inventions because they were thoughtful solutions to some of the issues flood victims faced immediately following the disasters and we believe there is a gap in the marketplace for items such as these.

Learn more about this awesome ideas and the others which were recently selected to move forward to development, check out our products in development page here. As we continue to test these product concepts, we’ll update these pages with our progress.

WANT IN ON THE ACTION?

Curious about how you can get more involved, and perhaps be chosen for the next products in development announcement? Join one of our LIVE invention challenges.

Login to Quirky.com and click on one of the invention challenges for instructions on how to invent the next big idea.

What We Should be Thankful for this Thanksgiving

We often talk about the inventions that have changed our lives for the better – and hey, they are pretty incredible, but what if instead of celebrating things, we celebrated the brilliant minds behind those inventions we love so much.

Take the microwave for example, invented in 1945 by a man named Percy Spencer. Spencer, who never finished grammar school, became a self-taught engineer and accidentally invented this magic heating machine when the technology he was testing cooked a candy bar in his pocket.

How about those disposable diapers, which have protected us from an undetermined number of blowouts. We have Marion Donovan to thank for this amazing idea. Most didn’t think her invention had any merit when she first pitched it in the early 1950’s, but Donovan didn’t give up on her cause. In 1961, she found someone who believed in her vision…and I think we all have heard of Pampers.

Great ideas come in all shapes and sizes. In 2012, fifth-grader Clara Lazen created a model for an undiscovered molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon. Her teacher recognized her brilliance and shared a picture of the model with a chemist. Now her idea is published in several scientific journals.

Everyone has an idea worth sharing and the potential to become the face behind the next big invention. As we gather around the table to give thanks, take a moment to appreciate the everyday creators and inventors both past and present.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What NOT Making the “Most Inventive” List Should Be Telling You

 

Every year, some of the top magazines release their top inventions lists, touting some of the coolest and most innovative inventions to be released. The most recent list to be published was Time. The list was rather comprehensive, with inventions coming from all sorts of verticals including Sports & Fitness, CPG, Apparel, Beauty, Auto, Electronics, and even Space Travel. National Geographic, Popular Science, CBS News and Money Inc. Magazines have similar lists.

Have you been featured on one of these lists? If your company was lucky enough to be featured – congratulations! If not, we should probably sit down and have “the talk.”

You’ve probably heard this statistic, or one similar:  Only 12% of Fortune 500 firms from 1955 remained by 2016. Almost 9 of every 10 Fortune 500 brands from that era are gone, merged, or declined to the point they were no longer considered part of the elite. Looking ahead six decades, it’s safe to assume that few of today’s Fortune 500 will remain as currently constructed.

This constant turnover attests to the importance of true product innovation (versus commercial, service, or business model innovation). You don’t have to be a member of the Fortune 500, 1000, or even 10,000 (is that a real list? If not, someone should make it) to take this lesson to heart: Invent or die. Okay, you probably won’t die… but the consequences for your business won’t be pretty.

Is your newest competitor on this list? Did Amazon and Google have Jibo on their radar? Was L’Oréal prepared for the splash made by Fenty Beauty? In today’s dynamic market, your next competitor is an invention away. And thanks to the many platforms democratizing creation, “away” isn’t years or millions in R&D, it’s someone like you or me with a great idea and a smartphone.

Assuming there were no mistakes, let’s consider why you didn’t make this year’s list. You’re smart and creative. Your company highly prioritizes and funds innovation. What’s missing? Some of the more common hurdles to successfully bringing inventions to market include:

  • Solving the right problems: What sorts of products do people wish existed? Most companies don’t have a visionary like Steve Jobs or Henry Ford at the helm, capable of inventing products people didn’t even know they needed. Are you positioned to find the white space?
  • Filling the funnel: Successful innovation relies on understanding basic math. The more quality concepts you begin with, the higher your success rate will be as you move through the evaluation and development process.
  • Product Validation: You’ve got a robust pipeline of concepts, but how do you prioritize and validate which ones to move forward with? Are you suffering from too-many-good-idea-paralysis?

Brands should be inspired by the products and companies on this list and motivated by the fact it’s not them. What else is standing in the way?

Join The Product Journey

Today we launched our new pipeline pages, a content series where you can keep up with the progress of inventions which have been selected for development.

Check out Helix here, and Sound Track here.

What does it mean if your submission is selected for Development?

First of all it means you should celebrate, brag to all your friends and family, and blow up your social media with the news of your incredible accomplishment. Out of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of invention submissions yours has been chosen (cue sound of a hundred angels singing).

The Development stage is where we test for viability. Can this idea be turned into a real product? Should it? Think of the Development phase as being made up of lots of additional sub-phases, and your idea now needs to pass each one of the sub-phases before going on to production and distribution. These sub-phases include:

  1. Design. We’ll put some of the industry’s finest industrial design talent behind sketching out your idea into a real tangible product.
  2. Renders. Let’s visualize the form factor in the necessary environments.
  3. Prototyping. Time to actually make a V1.0 of your product using 3D printing or other rapid prototyping technologies.
  4. Testing. We need to make sure it will work, and it won’t harm anyone. There are more safety and federal regulations around products that you can imagine, so we’ve got to check all these boxes.
  5. Sourcing. Can we find the materials and put them together in such a way that is efficient and allows us to produce the product at a reasonable cost? We all love cool pencil holders, but not ones that cost more than your iPhone X.

Each week we’ll provide updates as the chosen submissions move through these sub-phases. You’ll also get a glimpse into team meetings about your submission and some videos straight from the factory.

Sometimes the inventions won’t pass a sub-phase. That sucks, but it’s a fact of life. We’ll also use these pages to explain what went wrong, and why a product might be sent backwards, or crossed off the list.

The product development process is an incredible journey, and we’re excited to have you on board.

8 Insanely Clever Storage Ideas

Most of us don’t live in sprawling Jay & Bey style mansions. We live in “charming” homes that support our lifestyle and life stage. But whether you live in a stylish studio in the big city, or are creating a home in the ‘burbs for a growing family, every bit of space counts. These unique storage ideas were hand-picked by our invention experts to have passed the test for fun, quirky and useful.

  • Pet Feeder, $21: Why not feed your pet and store his/her food at the same time? Besides, this elevated feeder improves your pet’s digestion and helps reduce neck muscle strain. Can I get a hells yeah?! 
  • Play Mat Cleanup, $11: Make playtime easy and cleanup even easier. Legos anyone?
  • Silo Food Storage Container, $11: Silo is a stylish kitchen container with an integrated portion-control barrier. Perfect pours and always fresh ingredients #allday.
  • Cycloc Bike Mount, $99: Store your bike with style. This bike mount offers elegant and effortless horizontal or vertical bicycle storage, ideal for home, office and retail display applications.
  • Toy Eating Monster, $17: This might just be our favorite. No need to run from or battle this monster. Teach your kid to put his/her toys away in a fun way, then zip the monster’s mouth shut for safe toy storage. 
  • Hide a Sponge, $16: This savvy trey will hold and hide your sink sponges to keep your kitchen looking clean and tidy. 
  • Magnetic Bathroom Drawer Strip, $13: This handy magnetic strip holds all your bobby pins, tweezers, and any other metal tools so you never have to search again. 
  • Cargo Shower Caddy, $11: Cargo is no ordinary shower caddy. This souped-up carrier organizes all of your products with five flat bungee cords that separate items according to your needs and keeps bottles from toppling over.