Innovation

I’ve been thinking about “Innovation” a lot lately.  A big part of the NCWIT theme is that having women in computer science is critical to the innovation process.  I recently read my doctoral advisor Eric von Hippel’s new book Democratizing Innovation and re-engaged with Eric around the research he’s doing about user-driven innovation, especially in software around open source communities.  This morning, I finished reviewing proposals for the MIT Deshpande Center’s next grant cycle. 

Now – I know that reading grant proposals on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning is a particularly nerdy thing to do.  I did manage to tear myself away from the computer and go see Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Amy which had little to do with innovation, but was fun.  However, the proposals I reviewed (a subset of the overall proposal set) included:

  • Handheld Ultrasound Imaging Device
  • Laser cutting for faster, cheaper, better fiber optic connectors
  • Invisibly Modulated White LEDs for Economical and Embellished Lighting
  • Continuous Cycle Novel Dessert Freezing Process
  • Substrate Noise Analysis Program for Mixed-Signal Verification
  • Ultra-low-power Wireless Medical Tags

While this isn’t stuff that I’d fund (I’m a software guy after all), it stimulates an important part of my brain.  The depth and intensity of the early stages of the innovation process are similar across any domain set and it’s powerful, fascinating, and inspiring to think about.  It’s also very enlightening to take a step back and think about the core R&D process and subsequent evolution from innovation to commercialization, using MIT-based research as a starting point.  I continue to be really impressed with how the Deshpande Center is approaching this.

  • http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/ Bryan William Jones

    How do you feel about software projects that start out as CLI open source projects with all of the algorithm development completed and then taking the software commercial with precompiled binaries complete with with GUIs?

  • http://www.m-ven.com Alexander Muse

    I finished FAB when I was visiting my in-laws over Memorial Day in Nacogdoches, Texas. Ironically, many of the fabrication ideas he spoke of were well in use in this small East Texas college town. My father-in-law has a well used shop in the back and they make all manner of tools for use on the farm. They are just as likely to make something rather than build it.

    Here in Dalls on of our clients, Ignition (now owned by Radio Shack) has an abundance of highend DNC machines sitting idle waiting for me to type in a few instructions to create something unique. I am considering flying out to Boston to meet Neil.

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