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Coffee Cups, Toilet Paper Cores, Video Stores, UV Protection, and Magic Fiddles

| On 30, Nov 2010

Jack Hipple

What do all these topics have in common? They are all examples of new products that eliminate some other product or part of a system and still accomplish most or all of the original intent but with greater simplicity, lower cost, and less waste. In the TRIZ world, we call this redesign concept “trimming”.

A recent I Pad (R) application, Magic Fiddle, visually shows the outline and fingerings for a violin and a song can be played by simply following the symbols. The thumb is the bow and controls volume. Interactive learning teaches trills, chords, and glissando’s. So much for real violins and violin instructors.

Netflix(R) and Redbox(R) have replaced video stores and the inventory shelves and service people. So much for metal shelf manufacturers and some jobs.

Kimberly Clark has brought on the market technology to wind toilet paper that does not need a core to maintain a hollow center. So much for the cardboard manufacturers.

Starbucks, driven by the same environmental focus of not throwing stuff away, has had a contest to design a coffee cup that can be reused. 1 BILLION a year by 2015. So much for the pulp producers.

Training bikes without training wheels are now on the market after discovering that children actually learn faster without them. So much for the wheel suppliers and metal producers.

Clothing with built in UV protection is now on the market, minimizing the use of sun screens. So much for the chemical makers and formulators.

The dramatic drop in land line phone usage (25% in 5 years) with cell phones becoming a total substitute. So much for the plastics makers of the land line phones.

The Black and Decker Paint Stick(R) eliminates the aluminum paint pan. So much for the aluminum producer and metal forming business.

All of these changes are reported as “surprises” in the media, but they aren’t really. They are the natural, known progression of products and technologies as seen in the study of millions of patents and new products

Now I am exaggerating some when I say, “so much for….”, but the point is that every material, product, or service has the POTENTIAL to be absorbed into its super-system or into a system or other product already in use. With the exception of the painting and phone examples, all of the above examples have occurred with in the past few months and they are across a broad range of commercial products and businesses.

What about yours? What can you replace or absorb? How could someone replace you? Don’t wait until you read about your demise in the newspaper or on the web.