How a small app and a giant corporation are changing invention [PSFK]


In May, the fruits of a partnership between one of America’s biggest corporations, and Quirky, a crowd-funding site that has been making app-powered invention a reality since 2009, will be seen. At the PSFK 2014 Conference, Doreen Lorenzo, from Quirky, and Linda Boff from GE, gave a sneak preview of the first product to come out of this partnership, which began in April last year.

Quirky and GE have created Wink, a place where ideas on how to make products smarter with the help of their connection to the Internet and a mobile phone, will be manufactured by the electronics giant.

Of the four products GE and Quirky have been developing, the Aros is an 8000 BTU air conditioner that cools 350 square feet — by connecting to Wi-Fi and being controlled from Quirky’s smart home app, called Wink.

It costs US$300, and the idea for it came from Garthen Leslie, who wanted a way to make him able to control the energy level in his apartment. Apart from its sleek design, Aros has touch capacitive controls, with vents that are placed so that they unit is more likely to take in hot air, instead of air it has already cooled.

Going a step further, the connectivity allows the unit to track how much electricity you’ve been using, and let’s you see how much money you’ve spent. If you have a budget you want to stick to, you can set limits for how much you want to spend in a given month.

It also factors in the weather forecast, and helps figure out when you will want t the most use out of your air-conditioner. Best of all, you can switch it on moments before you arrive home, so that your home is cool before you step inside.

The idea behind Wink is to give ordinary people all over the world a chance to make products even better – with the muscle power of GE behind them. Quirky has already brought together a global community to create products — from the germ of the idea to the design, naming, marketing and even sale of it. Those who contribute are remunerated according to a.

One of the biggest Quirky success stories is the Pivot Power Genius, invented by a senior in high school, who read about the site in an in-flight magazine, and submitted his idea in 2012. It’s a power strip that bends to fit every sized plug or adapter without wasting a single spot on the outlet. But on top of that, it allows you to independently control two outlets from your mobile device. So, if you’ve left a light on, or want to switch one on as you arrive home, this is the ultimate device.

Boff says GE probably wouldn’t have come up with the idea for the Aros on its own, and Quirky’s Lorenzo believes it’s not the last time this kind of big-ticket idea will be produced. Between GE and Quirky, we can expect to see new, connected gizmos every six to eight weeks.



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