There’s a temptation to look at advertising as an additional expense rather than a necessary investment. Marketing is as much a key part of the design development process as the technology that supports your product or your first prototype.
When setting out to create something new, designer innovation takes precedence. Today’s impossibilities are a great road-map for producing tomorrow’s reality. Innovative product design increases quality of life, fixes problems in a new way, and paves the way for the future of an industry. Some of the most stunning examples of design innovation are those that effortlessly fit user needs. Here at Sightbox, one of our up-and-coming projects is a Podcast Transcription Platform! There is certainly a lot of excitement surrounding this, not only because it’s an amazing idea, but it’s an innovative product that just makes so much sense. “Of course that should exist!” True innovations are the result of creative problem solving. They provide new solutions or help individuals achieve a goal.
Today we are going on a jungle trek exploration through the rainforest of design innovation to discuss five stellar examples of product design. No need to book a flight to the amazon, our journey today will be contained within the margins of this article. Sightbox will be your tour guide, as you learn about three areas of product design: life before the existence of each product, what the product does and why it’s Super Cool, and how the product’s innovation design impacts the future.
Life Before: In the dark days before StreamYard, there were very few options for user-friendly platforms for live-streaming. Really the only choice was to utilize Twitch or OBS software, and even then, it wasn’t really feasible to stream across multiple platforms simultaneously. If you found a way, it consumed a ton of resources. I can practically hear my poor computer’s fan groaning at the idea of running these programs all at once. Let’s not even get started on the absolute pain that is switching, importing, and connecting different AV devices to streaming services. Ugh, I already have a headache.
The Design Innovation: With StreamYard, now you can magically stream your content to YouTube, Facebook Live, and LinkedIn, all at the same time! There’s nothing to download, no clunky software to clog your computer memory. StreamYard is entirely web-based, just requiring a browser. (You’ll find that is a theme of today’s discussion.) It’s incredibly easy to sign up for and offers great utility. Finding and adding equipment sources is super simple, just like joining a video-call. From a product design standpoint, StreamYard is a beautiful tool: accessibility packaged with a clean interface. It feels like a whole studio, really STREAMlines the whole experience. I crack myself up. StreamYard is literally what Sightbox uses to stream the Boxlunch Episodes every week! So we are experts when it comes to singing their praises.
Future Impact: One of the most amazing aspects of StreamYard is the multi-platform viewer engagement. If a commenter in the chat on YouTube types out a question, that will be shared to everyone watching, no matter where they might be. That creates unity in the content creator’s viewership. Did I mention it works on mobile too? The future of user-created video streaming is fully browser-based. It cuts the strings of computing stress and eliminates the weight of direct ties to a particular operating system. Say goodbye to bandwidth issues! This is all to say that StreamYard answers many streaming-related problems in a simple, innovative way.
Life Before: When you think of someone who made their millions buying and selling stock, you probably picture a balding old man in a suit, perhaps smoking a cigar in an overstuffed leather chair. He sits eagerly by a slick, black, rotary telephone ready to frantically make and take calls all day. Quite the business strategy, huh? The investment world was very analog. Think of the stock exchange worker bees running in a circle around a big chaotic room, building stacks of money from almost nothing. It was elitist, confusing, and a rich man’s game. Then of course there are brokerage firms, places like Charles Schwab, that bring the world of stock trading to the people. But you still needed to literally call your broker to put orders in for your stocks. Along came E-Trade, the self-service brokerage. Each step down the line adds a little more freedom of choice for the investor, but with an increased price tag. With E-Trade, investors had to pay per trade. There’s a flat rate attached to each purchase or sale. E-Trade (and businesses like it) made a lot of money as a “discount brokerage.”
The Design Innovation: Robinhood swings in and swashbuckles away all predisposed notions of independent stock market navigation. This personal, online stock-trading app is absolutely free. It was designed to be more accessible to a younger audience, bringing investing to whole generations that may never have taken interest in stock trading before. In fact, some users have taken up day-trading for sport, just for the thrill of it! Not to be dramatic, but in the hands of consumers that do their research, Robinhood has the potential to literally change lives. Because this platform is entirely online, a huge community sprung up around this app. Whether pillaging kingly wagons or turning profits, there is advantage in numbers. The buzz of investing has found its way to all the Merrie Men of Sherwood Forest.
Future Impact: Robinhood’s effect on the future of stock-trading and investing is seen with every new user. This product was designed with the everyman in mind, and that opens the door to all kinds of positive change. For example, during the C-19 Pandemic, Hertz stock completely went to pieces. Robinhood users came together and coordinated to buy up this impossibly inexpensive Hertz stock. Its value rose astronomically all because of the little guy, because of new investors. Buying and trading stocks and crypto-currency has been given a youthful, trendy new life. Let’s mess with the process – it’s not just for rich old guys anymore.
Life Before: Have you ever accidentally opened Internet Explorer and audibly gasped because you’ve now doomed the next seven minutes of your life to waiting for it to sluggishly open, only for you to desperately attempt to shoot it down? It makes me shudder more than most horror stories. Even though, thankfully, we’ve moved into a shiny new innovative era of the Google Chrome web browser, it too has its share of problems. Its sleek UI and amazing extensions almost make the memory-hogging and processing vacuum worth it. Almost. I think I just heard my laptop wheeze.
The Design Innovation: The Brave web browser was made to be lighter, cleaner, and more secure than its competitors while keeping all the utility that users love. It was built on the same platform that Chrome was, making it completely compatible with all Chrome extensions. Although Google’s level of cross-program information sharing can be, at times, helpful (as we discuss at length in the next examination of product design on this list), it can also feel a little spooky. Have you ever noticed ads disturbingly relevant to your recent online activities? Brave thinks that’s super creepy. Customer privacy has been a core value for the Brave team from the very beginning of the design process, to every development update. Brave limits the amount of personal information that can be stored, making it a more secure web browsing option. They take on challenges like increasing email security, reducing the collection of cookies, and finding methods to keep customers safe online. From a team of design thinking people who loves Chrome, this is the best new browser to install.
Future Impact: Brave keeps adding amazing and interesting features. One totally unique feature is Brave’s crypto-currency, the Basic Attention Token. The longer you use the browser, the more credit you earn. With that crypto-currency credit, you can “tip” a website that you want to support. Plus, Brave’s platform is all cloud-based, which makes it faster and easier to update and enhance new features as they are created. We see the future of using the internet as completely cloud-based. Having your own hardware will become inconsequential and the web browsers of the future will be the strong backbone for all computing.
4) Google Home
Life Before: In 1993, when updating the final show-scene for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the ‘Imagineers’ (Disney’s whimsical name for their designers and engineers) needed to design a grand vision of the far-flung future for the average family. In true fantasy fashion, they imagined a future full of fun and interactive technology designed to make life easier through home-integrated voice activation. Today, those ideas look and sound very familiar. They look and sound just like Google Home.
The Design Innovation: Simply put, Google Home makes every task easier, faster, and better. Just tell it what you need and it provides. The egg timer has been eliminated, pen-and-paper shopping lists are a thing of the past, and, honestly, who even needs light switches anymore. The power of voice and full-home integration connects you and your family to everything with ease. The speakers on the Google Home are awesome, too! Users can play music, podcasts, even trivia games and other activities, all on this high-quality speaker. With The Nest Mesh Wifi system, dead-zones of spotty internet can be completely eliminated, increasing web-surfing efficiency. It’s super fast and provides connectivity to all corners of your home. Google Home is fun, accessibly-priced, and consolidates a whole house-full of tech into an adorable little puck.
Future Impact: Voice is the future and Google Home takes center stage. Although using interactive voice technology has a learning curve, it’s a skill that comes relatively naturally. It’s amazing how quickly people – children, especially – pick up on these things. The kids of today are growing up with a lot of advanced technological conveniences, that’s pretty wonderful. So what comes next? Perhaps the Google Home will be able to suggest things and give preventative alerts. I, for one, would love to know if I left my toaster oven running before I head out the door. It’s exciting to think about where the future of AI will take us, especially when a company like Google is at the wheel. Products crafted with creativity, confidence, and imagination will find a great deal of success.
Life Before: The world of video games and their requisite consoles has always been fraught with expense, rapid overturn of obsolete technology, and a dependence on hardware. As the market ever grows and changes, the consumer has to go with the flow, making major console upgrade purchases every few years just to keep up. The games themselves are often equally hardware-dependent. Disks, chips, and cards are expensive, and they can break or even be eaten by the family dog! Video games are a huge commitment in time and money. What if you buy that $60 game and it turns out you don’t really…like it? “Why don’t you just rent the game, then?” I can practically hear my mother say. I remember taking her advice and renting PS2 games from my small-town Family Video. It was a nightmare of scratched, unplayable disks with the added misfortune of either playing small portions of games, or racking up crazy late fees.
The Design Innovation: Technology in temporary media has evolved so much for movies and television; now it’s time for video games to receive their much-needed upgrade. Stadia, which can very simply be described as “Netflix for video games,” offers consumers the ability to play huge, memory-intensive games without dedicated consoles or physical game hardware. Players can run games on anything with internet access: their phone, chromebook, or even their Apple iFridge (you know it’s coming). Because players aren’t actually buying the games, there’s no gamble for their investment – if they don’t like a game, they can just pick a different one, or two, or four! This gives customers the chance to experiment with a wide variety of games they may not have otherwise tried. This cloud-based video game platform is a subscription service that offers unlimited processing power. All of the expense of owning and constantly upgrading hardware evaporates because of Stadia’s ability to solve a problem as old as the gaming industry.
Future Impact: We are once again describing the benefits of utilizing cloud storage and processing to take the weight off the consumer. Products that are designed to be instantly flexible, upgradable, and accessible are looking to the future of a cloud-based world. Stadia is offering an operating system packed with processing power as a handy-dandy subscription. It will be interesting to see these concepts applied to different aspects of computing.
If you would like to hear more anecdotes regarding these wonderfully innovative examples of product design, check out Sightbox’s Episode 23 of the Boxlunch video series. Here at Sightbox, we love innovative ideas that are out to change the world, even just a piece of it.
Let’s do something impossible together.