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Product Review: TRIZ Digital Assistant

| On 21, Aug 2002

Product Review: TRIZ Digital Assistant

By Ralph Czerepinski, ralph@czere.com
Cz innovation
Midland, MI USA

TRIZ Digital Assistant, Version 1.0, � 2002 3G Design Hands High Software, Inc. (For the Palm Pilot and compatible devices.) Official Companion Software to 40 Principles: TRIZ Keys to Technical Innovation �1998-2000, Technical Innovation Center Inc.

Like many of the rest of us fortunate to attend TRIZCON2002, I saw the display table for TRIZ Digital Assistant, and kind of wondered about it. Either the people behind the table were tied up with potential customers, or there was no one there, so I never got a chance to look it over while attending the conference.

I received an ad for it by way of e-mail recently, which routed me to http://www.store.yahoo.com/trizda/ [new product link at handango.com], where I purchased it for $20(US). (Editor�s note-also available through the Products and Services page of The TRIZ Journal!)

Since I have a Palm m505, and I’m hooked on TRIZ, I guess the outcome was predictable, and besides, the Yahoo price was less than I’ve paid for most of my TRIZ texts.

The advertising claims,

TRIZ Digital Assistant – Innovation power in the palm of your hand. More design activity is taking place away from your desk, making it difficult to access desktop TRIZ design tools in group meetings, over lunches or on business trips. Now, TRIZ Digital Assistant puts the power of systematic innovation in the palm of your hand. Conveniently enabling you to solve technical contradictions anywhere you take your PDA. TRIZ Digital Assistant offers you the power to quickly solve technical problems on any hand-held computer running Palm 0S 3.0 or higher.�

TRIZ Digital Assistant is designed for new and experienced TRIZ users and is the official companion software to 40 Principles: TRIZ Keys to Technical Innovation, by Genrich Altshuller, the creator of TRIZ.

“Use TRIZ Digital Assistant to describe a technical problem from a numerically or alphabetically sorted list of engineering characteristics. TRIZ Digital Assistant suggests the right inventive principles to help you solve the described problem. Select any of the suggested inventive principles to view a detailed description of the principle. There is also a built-in glossary to conveniently reference the 40 inventive principles.

“System Requirements: Palm OS 3.0 or higher, 112K available RAM

“Compatibility: Makers of compatible Palm OS handhelds include: Palm,Handspring, Motorola, IBM, Kyocera, Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Symbol, Franklin Covey, and TRG. Supports Monochrome or Color systems”

All of the above is true. To put it simply, I’m disappointed. It offers a nicely programmed summary of the Altshuller contradiction matrix and the 40 Inventive Principles.

The interface is attractive. There are pull-downs for “positive characteristic” and “negative characteristic” with the 39 characteristics arranged in either the original numeric order, or in alphabetical order.

Choosing one of each generates a list of the 4 elements from the Altshuller matrix. Clicking on any one of them gives some additional text.

Example: If I were trying to improve the strength of an object without making it any heavier,

I pull <Positive Characteristic> down to <14. Strength>, and <Negative Characteristic> down to <2. Weight of a stationary object> and under <Inventive Principles>, I find:

40. Composition of Materials
26. Copying
27. Dispose
1. Segmentation

If I then tap on 40. Composition of Materials, I learn:

a. Replace homogeneous materials with composite ones.

That’s about it. No illustrative examples. No other broadening hints.

Physical Contradictions are not included, and I’m not sure why, as this would take only a tiny amount more memory. Cross-referencing the Separation Principles with the 40 Principles would probably help beginners a bit. It would be easy to do with this particular program.

The difficulty I see is that fully experienced TRIZ-niks grew out of the 40 Inventive Principles a long time ago. They are certainly still valuable when you are either in a hurry, or are teaching TRIZ to neophytes.

For TRIZ beginners, the examples in TRIZ software such as TechOptimizer� or in Innovation WorkBench� or CreaTRIZ� are what really get people solving problems. So I haven’t figured out which niche this fits in. Half my TRIZ texts include the contradiction tables, and many have illustrative examples included. So, I guess at this point, I’d save my $20 toward the next good English-language TRIZ text.

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