Play – create – innovate: have fun, make money

Have you ever seen a keyboard made from bananas? Playing with technology can stimulate creative thinking: a much needed quality in the field of Service Innovation.

banana piano from http://www.kickstarter.com

The picture shows a keyboard made from bananas, one example of what a creative thinker could do with Makey Makey; an invention kit which can be used to turn everyday objects into touchpads and link them to the internet.

Makey Makey was supported by Kickstarter a funding platform for creative projects including art, design, fashion, music and technology. Other innovative projects include a mask to make your dreams more lucid and a 3D printer kit that anyone can build.

‘From play to innovation’ is the title of a course at Stanford University where engineering students “Learn to enhance the innovation process with playfulness”. Students learn theory and practice and how to apply “design thinking to promote innovation in the corporate world.”

In the book ‘Think, play, do’ Dodgson, Gann and Salter examine the idea of ‘play’ as part of the design process through a series of commercial case studies. They identify the use of ‘Innovation Technology’, such as modelling and simulation, visualisation, virtual reality and rapid prototyping, as tools for playing with alternative designs. They also discuss the importance of “combining craft and code” (p 135) i.e. having people with deep knowledge and experience of their discipline as well as the ability to play with the innovation technology.

‘Think, play, do’ includes a section called ‘measuring play’ (p.109) which the authors recognise as being difficult but suggest that one “partial measure of play activities relates to the expenditure on design”.  Play can increase creativity and decrease the time taken to weigh up alternative designs; thus potentially reducing the cost and increasing the quality of the chosen design.

Play – create – innovate: have fun and (potentially) make money!

Reference:   Dodgson, M., Gann, D., Salter, A.,  2005,Think, play, do, technology, innovation and organization,  Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-926809-6

Acknowledgement: Thank you to Babis Theodoulidis for pointing me to Makey Makey

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