What do bicycle locks, dress shirts, and prescription bottles have to do with each other?
Answer: These are simple low-tech 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 5 of the coolest, tech-augmented, innovative products that are bringing the future to the present:
1. Skylock – The only solar-powered, GPS bike lock in the world.
There are several problems with a conventional bicycle lock. It’s relatively easy to break, you won’t know when it was stolen, and you’ll never be able to track it. It happens so often it’s not even funny.
Most companies work on improving the durability of the chains, but thieves are still able to break them easily.
Skylock was developed to change that. It uses technology to bring about the following features:
- Keyless unlock: Bluetooth LE sensors allows Skylock to unlock when you’re near your bike.
- Theft alerts: Sends alert through Wi-Fi if your bike has been moved or tampered with.
- Crash alert: Helps you to call for help when you’ve been in a crash.
- Solar powered: Never have to change your Skylock battery.
We love how Skylock has adapted technology found in smartphones and applied it to bicycle locks. The ability to track your bike, and prevent it from being stolen are what makes Skylock so amazing.
With Skylock, you can rest easy knowing that your beloved ride is in safe hands.
2. Ministry of Supply – The dress shirt from space
Ministry of Supply describe 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
3. GlowCap – Save lives by never forgetting.
Forgetting to take their meds is a fairly common problem that most people face . In the case of serious conditions, this can be a big issue.
GlowCap solves that by providing a visual and audio reminder when it’s time to take your pills. If the reminders are ignored, it calls a caregiver, and also sends your doctor a monthly progress report on how diligent your pill-taking has been. It also comes with a button that places an order for your next prescription at the pharmacy.
Apart from the light indicator and ringtone, I really like how the monthly progress report motivates people to take their meds. As the report is also sent to the doctor and caregivers, patients feel the need to be more accountable. This makes them more likely to take their pills and become healthier.
This little invention might be just what the medical field needs to indirectly save lives and money.
4. Edyn – Your very own intelligent and fully-automated garden.
When stuck into the soil, Edyn Garden sensor collects and analyzes data about the current weather and soil conditions.
It tracks light, humidity, temperature, soil nutrition and moisture, and then suggests what plants will thrive in your garden. This is done through cross-referencing with online plant, soil science and weather databases.
The Edyn Water Valve controls the duration and intensity of your sprinkler system based on information gathered from the Garden Sensor. No more under or over-watering. The Edyn App shows your everything that’s going in your garden and the sky above it.
What blew me away was the amount of data the Garden Sensor collects, and how fully-integrated it is with the Water Valve and the App. While I’ve never owned a garden, I expect the Edyn smart garden system will behave like my personal gardener, telling me all I need to know, as help me to cultivate a happy garden.
By the way, Edyn’s Kickstarter campaign is still ongoing, so if you’re looking to have cultivate a personal garden, check them out!
5. Quitbit – The world’s first smart lighter to help you quit smoking.
Quitting any addiction might be hard, especially when you have no way of measuring how much you’re indulging. The Quitbit lighter aims to help you quit smoking one cigarette at a time.
It displays how many cigarettes you’ve smoked, and how long till your next one. Individual goals can be set within the mobile app. Quitbit’s idea was spawned when the founder of Quitbit, Ata Ghofrani, had no idea how many cigarettes he had smoked in a day. He realised that you couldn’t quit or change any habit if you didn’t first have a way to measure your behavior.
As their Kickstarter video states, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.”
I like how Quitbit uses a systematic approach to measuring your progress, just like any fitness monitoring device. The thought behind it comes from a good understanding of the constraints that surround any habit. Smoking is sometimes a social activity, and people often light up without much thought.
Personally, I think most smokers have become indifferent towards the usage of fear and disgust to shock them into quitting. Quitbit presents a more optimistic and progressive approach, and that might actually be more effective.
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 help to provide more space for innovation. When we are restricted 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 in solving the problem.
That’s how these enterprising brands think, and that makes all the difference.
Read next: 13 examples of Kickstarter success