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Let’s Innovate the Innovation Icon

The pinnacle show of innovative new products and services was held last week—CES 2022. They no long want to be known as the “consumer” electronics show. Many agricultural, medical, space, automotive, and commercial vehicle companies participate now. Keep in mind that innovation is not limited to products and services. My brother was a “jig and fixture” journeyman in the plants. That means his “job” was to find ways to make it easier to manufacture and assemble things. I went to MIT and we revere the word “hack.” Hack is not just the negative connotation of breaking into something, but also “a usually creatively improvised solution to a computer hardware or programming problem or limitation” according the the Merriam-Webster dictionary website. We “Beavers” extend hack to anything that is either an elegant and simple or a crude and easy solution to a problem.

For decades now, a new idea, an innovation, has been represented by a light bulb, as if Thomas Edison was the only person to have a good idea. For some time now, I’ve been searching for something more “modern” to represent an innovative new idea. While reviewing several of the digitally recorded press conferences, panel discussions, and keynotes for CES 2022, I’ve come to accept the light bulb as an icon for innovation—BUT, with a twist. This being the Christmas season of light, I observed candles in ceremonies. That got me to thinking about how light was before Edison’s bulb. I’ve had a picture of 4 different bulbs from Edison’s version through compact flourescents to LED. CES 2022 showed me more options for smart homes and factories with wirelessly controlled lights and those that adapt to the circadian rythme to help newborns and others that are sensitive to light effects. So I came up with this picture. It takes the age old light bulb icon and updates it to one with brains inside and shows the latest remotely controlled inside that ubiquitous icon bulb.

Then I thought a little bit deeper. Where do these innovative ideas come from? I’m the type of guy that gets ideas in the shower. I can go to bed a night and dream an idea. Sometimes, without a dream, it comes to me and I wake up just knowing the answer to a dilemma. I’m also a pacer. I will pace up and down and aisle or hallway for half an hour trying to think something through. I’ll wait quietly as if meditating. Somehow it comes to me. I expect something similar goes on with others. That inspiration of an innovative idea seems to come from someplace or someone outside of my own body. So, I came up with this new picture to represent news ideas and innovation. I hope you see the same light bulb that I see.