The NYT’s take on innovation

04.06.2012
the innovation issue

Future shock

Talk about future shock. Sunday’s NYT Magazine focused on “tomorrow’s leap forward,” highlighting coming innovations (primarily hi-tech) that will change the way we live, work and even think. Starting with the premise that successful innovations are not one-off inspirations but “important leaps forward” built on failures “that synthesize lots of ideas,” it challenges the notion that innovation is something that takes place in a flash. It’s happening before our eyes but we can’t always see it. Case in point? The light bulb. It took 80 years before the initial idea became a workable product and another 40 before electric companies found their utility and “created reasons to consume electricity.” A cycle we’re still re-thinking and re-inventing today. My faves in this issue: Smart teeth, which feature sensors that send an alert when they detect “bacteria associated with plaque buildup, cavities and infection.” (A vast improvement over the prima donnas in my mouth that suddenly, inexplicably go bad.) Like many of the medical apps in development now, these may have uses throughout the body and could be real game changers in how healthcare is delivered. Smart computer screens that monitor your posture and make ergonomic suggestions. And smart shopping carts that guide you to the (healthier) purchases you need to make. (Okay, this one’s a little creepy although it might find a home with NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg.)

In the too-visually-clever-by-half department, the magazine’s design team re-imagineers the publication’s iconic logo. As Bob Dylan, might say, “the times (Times?), they are a-changin’.”

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