The quote from Mary Howell, used in the movie “Robots,” “See a need, fill a need,” captures the essence of innovation. This can be seen through human history in a number of ways, starting in the stone ages with stone tools. From their, innovation broke off into many different directions to fill our needs/desires for our life. A couple of more recent and more relevant innovations in today’s society is the computer and the mobile device.
Technology that is derived from the computer is running just about everything. And since there is a vast abundance of that technology everywhere, people are “hacking” everyday devices, such as the Android phone and the Xbox Kinect, and coming up with new and exciting uses for them. For example, Michael Zöllner and Stephan Huber are taking the Kinect and it’s optical control and are creating a way to help the blind manuever in everyday life. While this is just one example, the trend of “hacking” devices covers devices like the Wii remote, Xbox Kinect, iPhone, Android, iPad and other tablet devices.
As mobile devices become smaller, more powerful and more cost effective, I believe we will see this “hacking” trend focus more on the use of these devices. The companies that make these devices have also accounted for that very fact with the App. The app allows developers to write custom programs of their own design for the phone, without having to jailbreak the phone. Developers are also starting to link mobile devices up to computers and other devices that use the phone’s built in sensors as information providers. For example, the i-Kinect Experimental Project created a game where the Kinect was used to steer a space ship using a person’s position, while an iPhone was used to control the gun turrets on the spaceship.
I believe that it is important to not only look at what things are and what they can do, but also look to what they can be. If you are not familiar with technology, take the opportunity and plug yourself into a local tech community and actively participate in it. The tech community can help you learn the terms, and workings of the technology that interests you. On the other side of you being immersed in that culture, you can provide an outsiders point of view and a fresh mind to other people’s works.