They’re not off the rails yet: Train wheels are adjacent
Adjacent technologies make perfect sense in one technology area and they can offer ideas for how to improve a similar technology.
For this example, let’s examine the wheel/tire combination again. This technology is important because of its extensive use in diverse applications including passenger vehicles, bicycles, aircraft and heavy construction equipment.
The basic construction of wheel/tire combinations is very similar regardless of the application since the stiff wheel supports a semi-flexible tire.
If the wheel/tire combination is used in so many applications, what could possibly be an adjacent technology?
One answer is the train wheel.
The significance of studying adjacent technology is identifying its advantages over the wheel/tire combination: train wheels require no air and no rubber tire.
These advantages could help us identify a method for transitioning these advantages into wheel/tire combinations. The advantages would include no replacement tire needed and no flats.
Is there an obvious answer for bringing this adjacent technology’s advantages into automobiles? Not really, but that has not slowed down researchers trying to accomplish this very feat, click here to find out how.
Car wheel: Christopher Ziemnowicz (Wikimedia)
Bicycle wheel: David Haberthür (Wikimedia)
Aircraft wheel: BriYYZ (Wikimedia)
Construction equipment wheel: Phil Whitehouse (Wikimedia)
Train wheel: Ultra7 (Wikimedia)