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What do dress shirts, dumbbells, and speakers have to do with each other?
Answer: These are simple products that many of us use every day.
Answer 2: They are also products that have been 'upgraded' with the help of technology. This has helped to push them far beyond what was previously possible, and provide even more value for their users.
Here are some of the coolest, tech-augmented, innovative products that are bringing the future to the present:
1. Ministry of Supply - The dress shirt from space
Ministry of Supply describes their products as "Performance Professional Apparel for the Modern Man".
Their products focus on a single core narrative: to create clothes that can keep us cool during our daily work commute, and keep us warm when we enter the air-conditioned office.
Making use of phase-change materials (PCMs), the same tech used in NASA spacesuits, MoS shirts takes heat away from you when you're feeling warm, and gives it back to you when you're feeling cold.
But the feats don't just end there.
Their shirts also come with odor control, dynamic stretch, and are wrinkle-free too!
Dress shirts have never been hi-tech. MoS changes all that though, by giving you a shirt that makes you feel like a bad-ass astronaut.
Read next: Ministry of Supply's marketing strategy
2. Light Phone - A phone that calls and texts (that's it)
If you're looking to quit being addicted to your phone—social media, mobile games alike—then you might be interested in what the Light Phone has to offer.
The Light Phone II is a premium, minimal phone. You will never find social media, clickbait news, emails, internet browsers, or any other anxiety-inducing infinite feeds on it.
According to the product description, there is a customizable menu of simple tools, and a dashboard website to manage everything. If you're worried about not having privacy when answering calls, fret not because there is a headphone jack. You get the basic Bluetooth, which can double up as a personal hotspot. It looks similar to an e-reader and is restricted to mono colors. And that means it's great for your eyes because it does not emit any blue light like traditional backlit screens.
Tools that are available on the Light Phone:
- Simple music player
- Podcasts tool
3. Tonal - The smartest home gym
Home gyms were a thing but they really blew up when the pandemic hit hard in 2020. For anyone who's a gym junkie, here's introducing The Tonal Home Gym. It's a Wifi connected strength training machine that provides challenging weight-training exercises, expert fitness trainer-led online classes and creates tailored workouts to help users achieve their health goals.
The system consists of a mounted rectangular-shaped unit with adjustable arms and a touch interface screen. Users can choose which trainer-led online weight-training classes they want to go through, customize their workout, and even select music. Tonal uses electromagnetic resistance technology, which allows users to push and pull up to 200 pounds without requiring so much gym equipment taking up space at home. The cool part? Resistance increases as users set new personal records and become stronger.
Wait. How is Tonal able to tell if users are getting tired? They have a function also known as the "Spotter" and it does exactly what its name says. Spotter detects signs of struggle or fatigue to keep users safe. It reduces resistance temporarily so that users can push harder and finish their set strong.
Even Serena Williams, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry use Tonal.
4. Transparent - Speakers made to last a lifetime
Transparent aims to be the first circular tech brand with premium speakers that are made to last a lifetime. Apart from a long-lasting quality and appearance, this means a modular design that can be repaired and upgraded over time. This way, users can keep their product updated by their preference and change only a small segment, instead of having to replace the entire unit. The ultimate goal is to make sure that their products last a longer lifetime in order to reduce their environmental impact.
The products are mainly made of aluminium and glass, which are chosen for their ability to last a long time and to exist in recycled material streams. The brand is constantly working to increase recycled sources with the aim of closing the material loop.
It's aesthetic, functional, and also environmentally-conscious.
Provide more value by getting good at more than one thing.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this point is this statement by Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK:
...today's most interesting questions and ideas come from the collision or intersection of different schools of thought.
He goes on to say that even if you are really good at one thing, there are probably several others who are better than you. So how do you set yourself apart from your competitors and provide meaningful value to your customers at the same time?
Read next: Rory Sutherland's 5 perception hacks
The idea is to think sideways, not simply forward.
Combining various fields helps to provide more space for innovation. When we restrict our ideas to any one particular field, we run the risk of missing the really awesome ones. The best way is to expand your scope to combine research from multiple fields.
Who'd ever think that technology used in spacesuits could be applied to a dress shirt? MoS identified a problem (temperature regulation) and applied research from other fields (space tech). They not only solved the problem but also became one of the most unique apparel brands out there!
Start with a problem that you're trying to solve, and don't restrict yourself to what you can or cannot do. Look at what is available in the world, and see how you can apply that to solve the problem.
That's how these enterprising brands think, and that makes all the difference.
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