technical vs. design innovation

Following is an insightful quote from a FastCompany article titled “Why Good Design Is Finally a Bottom Line Investment“:


Innovation usually cycles between periods of raw, technical inventiveness and the finer task of packaging it for mass adoption. In personal tech, for example, we’re in an integration phase that comes on the heels of fundamental advances such as the Internet and mobile computing. With back-end magic becoming a cheap utility, user interfaces are now a startup’s best chance to break out.

The lighting industry is standing on the precipice of its own transition such as described above.  LED and networking technologies have advanced to the point that the basic communications backbones of even the most advanced lighting systems are commodities — at least at a functional level.  The reality of the situation is that without industry standards for digital descriptions of hardware, interconnection protocols, and other key “connective tissue”, competing manufacturers simply regurgitate redundant commodity systems; not complementary and innovative products.  How many wireless lightbulb communications protocols are out there right now???  There only needs to be one.

If smart, adaptable standards become widespread, the focus will shift from this needlessly “proprietary” technologies to the design of the end applications.  Like the quote above, when the systems become common accessible, commodity systems, the the focus turns to design to figure out how to use the systems to maximum potential in relation to end-user needs.  The lighting industry, particularly in the controls segment, seems clueless as to this process.

Design with capital “D”!