Design is: Identifying Gateways
Another perfect example of these gateway technologies was the transistor. At first, the transistor was imagined for use in the same sorts of devices that vacuum tubes were used in -- radios, PA systems, telephones, and televisions. It wasn't until later that some inventors realized that the real power of the transistor wasn't that it warmed up instantly, and couldn't shatter like a tube. They understood that it's gateway property was that it could be made smaller and smaller. And the smaller it was, the less power it used up. With that idea, the explosive climb of Moore's law was ignited. And this is just one of the hundreds of technology gateways which appear every year, or even day, just waiting for someone to recognize them and open them to development.
On a more recent, and more ridiculous note, the gateway that USB port technologies opened is an interesting one to examine. Particularly because the products it produced range from insightful to laughable, based on the skill of the designer's insight into the gateway.
USB is a gateway because it was the first widely available, cheap to implement, powered port on computers, especially laptops. The first peripheral to capitalize o this gateway was a laptop flex-lamp like this one. This design was very well positioned, since laptop users might very well find themselves in dubious lighting, where a small light would be useful. Of course, once the gateway was opened, anything was possible. And not everything was really that great -- everything from vibrators, to laser pointers, to coffee cup warmers can be found powered by USB. Even this fishtank is a bus-powered wonder.
But some hope still remains. Designer Joey Roth has addressed the same need that the original snake-lights tried to help with: Task Lighting. But his answer in the Ise desk lamp is addressed to the more permanent desktop computer user who wants a stylish lighting solution.
These are only a miniscule sample of today's gateways. New materials, new processes, new social norms, new behavioral patterns; All these are potential touchpoints for explosive product development. But they need you to give them a push.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team