The beauty of crowdsourcing...
We've written before about the Industrial Internet, General Electric's plan to put sensors and internet connectivity into industrial machinery - airplane engines, dam turbines, hospital sanitation equipment, you name it - for the sake of monitoring and improving operational efficiency. Well now, you can add egg cartons and power strips to that list.
A few months back, GE partnered with Quirky, a New York-based firm that specializes in crowdsourcing ideas that lead to creation of innovative products. Quirky hopes to leverage its platform by giving inventors an avenue through which they can painlessly create and market their inventions, while GE hopes to quell fears of patent infringement among aspiring inventors by giving them access to GE's massive patent library.
GE patents will be available in a database hosted by Quirky for easy browsing by inventors. Once an inventor decides to capitalize on a GE patent, that invention can only be used through the Quirky social platform
But this partnership means more for GE than reinventing the way we store eggs. CNN explains,
Though GE and Quirky are open to any new ideas, the primary focus points of the partnership are home-automation technology, smartphone-controlled devices and "the Internet of things." Inventors will be encouraged to submit their ideas and leverage GE's vast array of security- and health-related patents.
- CNN Money
By having consumers design their own smart products, GE gains insight into how best to implement sensors and report the data they record, while expanding the base of inventors utilizing their patents. On the surface, this venture may seem unrelated to enterprise and industrial IT. Digging deeper, though, it would appear that GE is laying the framework for market dominance in an post-Industrial Internet world.
There are currently four devices available on the Quirky-GE homepage - the Spotter multipurpose sensor, Pivot Power Genius power strip, Egg Minder egg tray, and Nimbus customizable dashboard - which Gizmodo explores in detail in this post, including a bonus 5th product, the Porkfolio interactive piggy bank.