These guys have done some amazing iPod accessory design work. Mophie (now owned by mStation) also put into practice a concept I have been noodling over for a while now: involving end users in an interative design and voting process to produce innovative, niche products. They first rolled out an early form of what they call their Illuminator process at Macworld 2007. As they put it:
In less than four hours MacWorld attendees doodled over 100 concepts. Over the next three days the community and [chose] three that became actual prototypes at the show.
As I have said before involving users in the design process is not the answer to everything and when done incorrectly can have the potential to churn out total crap that no one wants. But when you take in all of the successful developments over the last year, the possibilities and power of something like this emerge:
- The maturation of online social tools
- Improving online collaboration technology
- Do it yourself product design, build, and/or sell companies such as Ponoko, Big Blue Saw, eMachineShop, Instructables, Crowdspirit, and Mophie.
- Successful crowdsourcing efforts such as A Swarm Of Angels, Crowdspirit, Dell IdeaStorm, Sell A Band, and Threadless.
My prediction: we will see more of this. And someone is going to figure out an awesome way to do it and bring all of these pieces together. .