Scott Amron is an inventor with a knack for using the Task Unification pattern, one of five in Systematic Inventive Thinking. His most recent is a sticker that turns into a soap under running water. It is called Fruitwash. Once dissolved, the Fruitwash removes wax, pesticides, and dirt from fruit and vegetables. The sticker has been “assigned an additional task” as it performs its primary task. Classic Task Unification.
Scott claims it has these features:
- No stickers to peel off and throw away
- No expensive produce wash (fruit wash) to buy
- Displays Price Look-Up codes for fast & accurate check-out
- Label can also be removed normally by peeling off
- Water resistant
- Washing / rubbing with water triggers the turn
- Helps remove water-resistant wax, pesticides and fungicides
This isn’t the first time Scott has used Task Unification to create new products. Checkout his Brush & Rinse toothbrush. It is a new way to get water into our mouths for rinsing out toothpaste. The brush is pierced on top in a way that allows you to direct a nice, neat fountain of water directly into your mouth so you don’t have to reach under the faucet.
To use Task Unification:
1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task. Consider ways to use each of the three Task Unification methods:
- Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product already accomplishes.
- Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
- Choose an internal component and make it do the function of an external component (effectively “stealing” the external component’s function)
3. If you decide that an idea is valuable, you move on to the next question: Is it feasible? Can you actually create this new product? Perform this new service? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?
Check out Scott’s complete inventory of inventions and see how many you can identify that use some form of Task Unification. I counted twenty seven!
Drew Boyd is Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati and Executive Director of the MS-Marketing program. Follow him at www.innovationinpractice.com and at http://twitter.com/drewboyd