FEER writes about the Asian Innovation Awards finalists. Winners will be announced next week. My pick:
A hand-held windmill to power mobile gadgets. When science graduate N. V. Satyanarayana was travelling by train across India his Walkman batteries would pack up after three hours. He had no way of recharging them and buying replacements on the way was costly. The wind blowing through the train windows made him recall his science lectures on wind energy. He soon set to work on making a portable recharger which works on the same principle as a windmill, converting wind into electrical energy.
Writes the magazine: “Innovation can serve up unpredictable results. But the spirit of questioning why things are the way they are and how they can be improved lies at the very heart of progress. From the tool-making experiments of the earliest hunter-gatherers of the palaeolithic era to the controversial cloning of Dolly the sheep, innovation is pushing the boundaries of science, technology and medicine. What was science fiction only yesterday is quickly becoming science fact.”
There’s also an interview with Acer’s Stan Shih on Innovation. He is very bullish on Services being the next big thing. He says:
I see more room for innovation in services. If you look at IT over the past 20 years, most of the innovation was technology-driven. It’s not marketing-driven. The customer aspect of innovation is the future. If you want to make technology become more popular, it will take innovation in the services area. We have committed $300 million for the next five years to establish a research-and-development operation in services. My vision is that we can start very comprehensive customer-need research so an innovation can be a product, can be a new service, and also a new business model.
We established a new philosophy called mega-infrastructure-micro services. So we invest to build an infrastructure that includes the integration of a telecommunication network . . . and software platforms. Then we provide micro services . . . For example, the use of smart cards to pay for utilities. We also have an e-office program for small and medium-sized companies, so they don’t need their own MIS people. We offer virtual MIS services and can manage the office for them.
My personal view (very biased) is that the next big innovations will see computing being made available to the next hundreds of millions of users in the emerging markets. It is not about using the latest technologies, but seeing how best existing technologies can be integrated together to bring down the cost of computing by 90%.