Disruptive technologies can start with daydreams if you let them
I don’t know about you, but I find that daydreaming is one of my favorite pastimes, especially when tending to mundane duties around my office or at home. And I often find that my idle thoughts lead back to business ideas related to innovation and disruptive technologies. Thinking and dreaming about new ideas all the time is probably why I love my job so much.
Changing the cartridge in my printer the other day – and cleaning the ink stains from my fingers – triggered a couple of thoughts about disruptive practices I’d like to share.
Surely you have heard of Inky the Octopus? A captive guest at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, Inky became a celebrity by making a daring jailbreak from his watery confinement.
About the size of a football, Inky took advantage of a slight opening of the lid at the top of his tank one night several months ago. How long had he dreamed and plotted for such an opportunity?
Inky is believed to have crawled out, slithered across the floor and found his way to a not-quite-6-inch drain that lead back to the ocean. With no bones to prevent his shape-shifting, Inky squeezed out and was gone by the next morning when staffers arrived to check on him.
Inky’s story of unexpected derring-do made headlines on many of the world’s top news services including the New York Times and this Inside Edition video. Social media had a week of fun, too.
Go Inky! His apparent ability to think outside of the box led him literally out of the box and to freedom.
Thinking outside of the box is how business disruptions get started. Back at my humble office printer, I also paused a minute to think about the 3-D printing revolution that is well underway. How will this disruptive technology change my life? How will it create opportunities for my clients?
As you probably know by now, 3-D printers function by carefully adding thin layers of material that will ultimately result in a complete part. For this reason, 3-D printing is commonly referred to as “additive manufacturing.” Traditional manufacturing, however, often starts with a large piece of material and then reduces it down to the final size (subtractive manufacturing).
For me, one of the most fascinating disruptive opportunities for 3-D printing is in the world of food. NASA has been researching the use of 3-D printers for making customized foods for astronauts, especially for long-duration travel such as to Mars.  These 3-D food printers would be very similar to the concept of food replicators shown in the television series “Star Trek.”
Yes, food printed to order is being developed now. By way of the patent alert software I have linked through my website, I saw a new filing for a 3-D cake printer just last week. Imagine, a cake (not just the message on top) printed to order. My diet will never be the same!
Do you have a disruptive daydream? Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box – and pass me a slice of that cake.
Learn more about 3-D printing, including free patent updates.
Printer: Eva Wolf, Airwolf 3D (Wikimedia)
Inky: National Aquarium of New Zealand